Attorney General Rob Bonta and the California State Water Resources Control Board Announce Settlement with the City of Calexico Over Illegal Water Shutoffs

Wednesday, June 5, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

This settlement, the Department of Justice’s first Water Shutoff Protection Act enforcement action, includes restitution of up to $150,000 and stringent injunctive terms to prevent illegal water shutoffs 

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the State Water Resources Control Board filed a motion asking the court to enter a stipulated judgment with the City of Calexico, resolving alleged violations of the Water Shutoff Protection Act and the Water Arrearages Program. As part of the settlement, the City of Calexico will implement injunctive terms and be required to pay up to $150,000 in restitution to customers impacted by the City’s violations. In addition, the City of Calexico and the State Water Board will separately resolve the City’s liability for administrative penalties.

“The right to access water is fundamental, and no family should have to endure the hardships of living without this basic necessity,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Yet, during the height of the pandemic, many families were devastatingly impacted by illegal water shutoffs. This is simply unacceptable. This settlement will provide both monetary relief for affected families and solutions to ensure that critical water services remain protected against illegal shutoffs.”

“The City’s actions deprived many Californians of water service to their homes during the pandemic as well as State-funded assistance to pay past due water bills,” said Yvonne West, Director of the Office of Enforcement at the State Water Board. “This settlement requires the City to provide restitution and enhanced protections to the impacted community.”

“Access to drinking water is an essential right for everyone across California, and I appreciate Attorney General Bonta’s steadfast leadership in enforcing our laws to protect the health and wellbeing of those most in need,” said Senator Bill Dodd, D-Napa. “The Water Shutoff Protection Act provides a lifeline to vulnerable households, including seniors, children and those with illness or disability, so it’s critical that the law is followed.”

In 2022 and 2023, the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Environmental Justice and the State Water Resources Control Board investigated the City of Calexico’s compliance with the Water Shutoff Protection Act, which Senator Dodd authored in 2018 as Senate Bill 998. The investigation revealed significant violations of the Act, as well as the Governor’s moratorium on water shutoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic and the State Water Resources Control Board’s Water Arrearages Program. These programs were designed to provide uninterrupted utility services and water debt relief to customers who suffered economic hardship as a result of the pandemic.

The settlement would resolve the alleged violations of 1,090 water shutoffs and require the City of Calexico to pay or credit the accounts of 484 customers who had their water illegally shutoff and to return improperly collected fees to customers. The settlement would also impose injunctive terms, which require the City to implement a compliant water shutoff policy and remove its punitive billing policies, including by reducing the amount and frequency of late fees, providing customers with more options to enter into payment plans, giving customers more time to pay their bills, and lowering the barriers for customers who do experience a shutoff to restart service. Under the settlement, the City of Calexico also submitted a corrected application to the Water Arrearages Program, which will result in approximately $267,000 in State-provided funding being disbursed to eligible City residential customers in compliance with the Water Arrearages Act.

This is the first enforcement action of the Water Shutoff Protection Act by the California Department of Justice. In 2022, the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Environmental Justice issued a legal alert to all water systems then covered by the Act, reminding them of the Act’s requirements. While the original Act applied to public water systems with at least 200 service connections, beginning on August 1, 2024, the requirements of the Act will apply to public water systems with at least 15 service connections. See here for more information.

A copy of the proposed stipulated judgment can be found here.

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