Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

SANTA ANA, Calif. – Due to the end of pandemic utility assistance programs, the City of Santa Ana is preparing to resume service discontinuations for water customers beginning July 4, 2024. However, water service disconnections will not begin until September 2024.

Residential customers will see major changes in the billing processes, including having 60 days instead of 30 days to pay a past-due bill before service is interrupted or discontinued, additional notifications, and special provisions for qualified customers with medical and financial hardships.

“We recognize that inflation is affecting many residents’ bank accounts and that many may still be feeling the financial impacts of the pandemic,” Mayor Valerie Amezcua said. “We want to work with residents who have unpaid bills to get them back onto their payment cycle and avoid having to shut off anyone’s water. We encourage all water customers with past-due bills to contact Municipal Utility Services to set up payment plans as soon as possible before water shutoffs resume.”

While many other Orange County and California cities had already resumed water shutoffs for nonpayment, some as early as last year, Santa Ana held back on this and instead focused on maximizing efforts to identify payment relief for customers. Those efforts resulted in the City helping over 5,000 households receive nearly $4.2 million in assistance, including:

  • California Extended Water & Wastewater Arrearage Payment Program: $2,751,505 credited to approximately 3,000 customer accounts
  • California Low Income Water Assistance Program: $507,000 provided to approximately 400 households
  • CARES Act: 1,857 grants issued to qualifying households totaling $928,000

On June 4, 2024, the Santa Ana City Council approved changes to the Municipal Code to update the City’s water billing rules to comply with the State of California’s Water Shutoff Protection Act, also known as Senate Bill 998. The changes increased the water shutoff noticing time from 30 days to 60 days and modified several other key components of the City’s bimonthly billing processes for residential water customers.

The Water Shutoff Protection Act details rights and provisions aimed at improving the public’s access to safe, clean, and affordable water. Under this law, the City:

  • Must post a written policy on discontinuation of water service for nonpayment available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, and Tagalog.
  • Is prohibited from discontinuing residential service for nonpayment until a payment by a customer has been delinquent for at least 60 days.
  • Must follow notification requirements for delinquent accounts and remedies for customers under specified circumstances.
  • Is prohibited from discontinuing residential service under specified circumstances.
  • Must report the number of annual discontinuations of residential service for inability to pay on its website and to the State Water Resources Control Board.

Residents can learn about their rights under the Water Shutoff Protection Act here.

The changes to water billing processes will be progressive, and the City will shut off water service as a last resort. Additionally, the City will focus first on past-due accounts with higher balances. As of May 28, 2024, the City has 45,576 water customers (39,940 residential accounts and 5,636 commercial accounts).

Payment arrangements may be requested from all water customers, but accommodations are not guaranteed. The changes will take effect on July 4, 2024, with the first set of past-due accounts eligible for shutoff in September 2024.

The City advises customers to be watchful for scams! The City is not offering payment assistance anymore and has not contracted with any agency or entity to provide assistance. We remind customers to pay only through the City’s approved methods and keep your personal information safe. If you have questions or are not sure how to pay, we ask that you please come talk to us. Please call (714) 647-5454, go online at www.santa-ana.org/municipal-utility-services/, or visit us in-person at City Hall.



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Editor
The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

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