Unpaid water bills are piling up across California as the pandemic continues to rage, leaving water agencies out hundreds of millions of dollars and nearly 1 in 8 families with rising debt — and worse, a possible water shut-off.
In the Bay Area alone, tens of thousands of households have missed a water payment recently. San Francisco reported more than three times as many delinquent water customers at the end of last year compared with March, shortly after the coronavirus pandemic began. That’s pushed the city’s total outstanding balance up six times what it was, to more than $7 million.
The financial hardship is even worse in parts of the Central Valley and Southern California. A statewide moratorium on service shut-offs, put in place indefinitely by Gov. Gavin Newsom in April, protects many residents from losing water for not making payments. But some water agencies are reporting that revenue shortfalls are threatening their bottom line and could soon disrupt operations.