Los Angeles DWP plans to shut off water to all its customers who can’t pay bills

Los Angeles DWP plans to shut off water to all its customers who can't pay bills

Los Angeles DWP to end water and power shutoffs for low-income customers who can’t pay bills

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Los Angeles — With the California drought threatening California’s water supply, Los Angeles DWP customers who can’t pay their bills are about to take a major step toward relief: The state’s biggest utility is planning to shut off the water and electricity to nearly all of its customers who are not able to pay their bills, a step that had, until now, been confined to wealthier neighborhoods in many cities.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the decision by Southern California Edison, the DWP and the city of Los Angeles was scheduled to happen Thursday, but that it may now happen in March, when most of the state normally has heavy summer rain.

But the water rationing comes with a catch.

Under the plan, those on fixed incomes who can’t pay their bills will get $75 per month in food stamps until their debts are settled. The $1,000 a month for up to five months will be paid to those in family and medical situations — including those with special needs.

And those people will not get a free summer vacation or a new car in a free government program, even though the DWP will still give lower-income people free or discounted water in their first month of residency.

In an effort to cut costs, the DWP had proposed capping water use during the drought, a move that the Times described in December as “fraught with political peril.”

The utility had also proposed limiting how much water customers in the most vulnerable neighborhoods might be allowed to use at one time.

But the California Public Utilities Commission had rejected those proposals in December, citing that the DWP was not taking into account the “hundreds of thousands of California residents” who live in the most vulnerable neighborhoods — many of whom will likely now be turned off water entirely.

The DWP had offered its customers, who average about $100 per month in income, a free year’s supply of food stamps, a move that sparked a debate over whether or not the program should be free.

The utility has tried to negotiate with Mayor Eric Garcetti to allow the DWP to reduce its water cutoff to an average annual income of about $100

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