EBMUD Board approves resolution affirming the right to safe, clean, accessible water to protect public health

New resolution provides alternative to water shutoffs

OAKLAND - The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) took action this week to ensure water service to meet basic needs is maintained for those behind on their bills, ending water service shutoffs for long-delinquent accounts. The resolution, which allows EBMUD to use flow restrictors to provide enough water for basic consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes, was approved unanimously by EBMUD’s seven-member Board on December 8, 2020. The policy will take effect after the California COVID-19 State of Emergency declaration is lifted.

“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of maintaining access to water for all EBMUD customers for hygiene and to prevent the spread of this disease,” said EBMUD Board President Marguerite Young. “This progressive policy is an important step forward in supporting the state’s goal of providing access to clean, reliable water for all.”

EBMUD will not incorporate flow restrictors into its payment collection process for single-family residential customers until after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, and following the lifting of Governor Newsom’s emergency declaration. EBMUD already offers a comprehensive range of options for those facing financial difficulties, including one of the most generous customer assistance programs in the state, flexible payment plans and extensions, and water conservation resources to manage water use.

EBMUD’s action, among the first of its kind in the nation, comes in response to the historic public health and financial crises stemming from the pandemic. On March 12, 2020, EBMUD proactively suspended water shutoffs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and restored water service to customers who were shutoff due to non-payment. EBMUD’s action preceded the Governor’s Executive Order issued on April 2, 2020 placing a moratorium on water shutoffs. Thousands of single-family residential customers are struggling with paying their water bills, many for the first time. And the impact is disproportionately affecting customers in disadvantaged communities.

“The Board’s action this week demonstrates our leadership and deep commitment to helping customers in need,” said General Manager Clifford Chan. “As an organization, we will continue to find new ways to help those in our East Bay community with water accessibility and affordability.”

EBMUD will only install flow restrictors on single-family residential accounts with water bills more than 90 days overdue after all other options, including multiple outreach attempts and payment plan offers, have been exhausted. After a flow restrictor is installed, it will remain in place for accounts that continue to be delinquent.

EBMUD has a long history of developing and implementing programs to keep the water flowing for customers facing financial difficulties. Since 1987, EBMUD’s non-rate revenue CAP allows for water service discounts of up to 50 percent for eligible customers, and an additional 35 percent discount on wastewater bills. Since January 2020, due to the pandemic, participation in EBMUD’s CAP has increased by about 18 percent.

Customers seeking assistance with payment options can find more information at ebmud.com/CAP or contact EBMUD at 1-866-403-2683.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District has a proud history of providing high-quality drinking
water for 1.4 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. EBMUD’s
wastewater treatment serves 685,000 customers and protects the San Francisco Bay. EBMUD is a not-for-profit public agency established in 1923.

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