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State to bail out Cereans with delinquent water accounts
past due bill art

The city will be receiving an estimated $576,872 from the state to help the 1,012 Ceres households who are delinquent paying their water bills from March 4, 2020 through June 15, 2021.

The funds are coming from the California Water and Wastewater Arrearage Payment Program (CWWAPP).

The city will cover the water portion of the bill, not the sewer and garbage portion; but the city is also seeking for $546,972 to help cover delinquent sewer bills as well.

The amount coming from the state is based on the city’s tally of delinquent water accounts as of June 15, 2021.

City Finance Director Leticia Dias said some residents were not delinquent that whole period and that they may have paid their bill or a portion of it.

The state’s action stems from Gov. Newsom’s COVID lockdown beginning on March 4, 2020 which caused some families to miss work and income. The state also dictated that cities could not shut off service to those unable to pay their bills but eventually phased out that policy on Sept. 30, 2021. In response to economic conditions caused by the pandemic and state lockdown the state Legislature provides nearly $1 billion to the State Water Resources Control Board to administer the WWAPP to reduce delinquent water and wastewater balances for customers experiencing financial hardships. Funding for the program comes from the state’s share of the federal Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Funds.

When asked by a resident who participated remotely on Zoom, Dias said that those residents who made payment arrangements for the delinquency between those dates would also get a credit on their water bill.

The credits were applied on Monday, March 28, said Dias.

Those who continue to be delinquent paying their water bill will be shut off as of May, said Dias.