SACRAMENTO, Calif. - -

The California Department of Community Services and Development announced today the Drought Water Assistance Program to assist drought impacted, low-income households with their residential water utility bill. The program will be directed to families in Central Coast counties of Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito. Seven other counties experiencing the worst drought impacts in the Central Valley will also benefit from the program.

“Working with community-based organizations, CSD’s Drought Water Assistance Program will help provide much needed relief to drought-impacted families,” said CSD Director Linné Stout. “CSD has worked quickly to address this locally identified need through this new program.”

The Community Services Block Grant agency in each of these counties has been awarded $60,000 to provide residential water financial assistance benefits and water conservation education to low-income households. The agencies will partner with local water providers to enhance the effectiveness of outreach and coordinate payment of a client’s current, past due and/or disconnected water utility bills. Eligible households will be asked to self-certify that they were impacted by the drought. Services could begin in June 1.

Through the block grant, the DWAP allocates one-time funding of $600,000 to ten counties in which the unemployment rate is higher than the 2013 statewide average, the share of agricultural workers is higher than the state as a whole and which are experiencing “exceptional” drought conditions according to the U.S. Drought Monitor Classification System. These counties are Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz, Stanislaus and Tulare.

CSD conducted a drought impacts survey of the local agencies the Department works with to serve low-income populations throughout California. These agencies identified water utility bill assistance as a drought emergency need. In response, CSD developed the DWAP by working with these local agencies to use one-time funding under the Community Services Block Grant. Previously, no state program offered emergency assistance with the primary focus of helping with water utility bills.

Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent and prevent water waste – visit SaveOurH2O.org for ideas about how to conserve, and visit Drought.CA.Gov to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought.