Program to help San Diegans pay water bills

Posted at 9:12 AM, Feb 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-26 12:12:06-05
SAN DIEGO -- A plan to help low-income San Diegans pay their water bills is headed to the City Council for approval after receiving a tentative go-ahead from the Environment Committee.
If approved, the city's Public Utilities Department would establish the Help to Others program -- known as H2O -- into which ratepayers can make tax deductible donations. The revenue would provide assistance for customers who need help paying their bills.
Customers would be alerted to the opportunity to donate through bill inserts.
"There is a great need for a program like this -- water is a human right and we need to make sure every person has access to it and can afford it," said Councilman David Alvarez, who chairs the committee.
The program could be put in place in July 2017 if it's approved by the City Council.
According to Alvarez, the Public Utilities Department has already implemented reforms like offering a 14-day courtesy extension for bill payment, more affordable and longer term payment plans, one-time waivers of shut-off and restoration fees, and adjustments to help single-family residential customers
overcome an unusually high bill.
Also, the city will no longer disconnect service on Fridays or before a holiday weekend.