SACRAMENTO–Assembly Bill 1588, authored by Assemblymember Devon Mathis (R-Porterville), would help homeowners who live in some of the most severely impacted areas of drought by providing grants and low-interest loans for water and wastewater projects. Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford), co-author of AB 1588, carried the measure to a unanimous vote in support on the Senate Floor.
Since 2014, over 1,400 homes have run completely out of water in Tulare County alone.
“Folks who rely on groundwater wells have been especially impacted by drought and there are no programs right now that help these individual homeowners and renters with financial assistance to get water for their basic needs,” said Andy.
Current law only provides funding for public water systems in impacted communities.
There is $15 million dollars in the 2016-2017 State Budget allocated to help drought stricken Californians get water. AB 1588 directs the State Water Resources Control Board to distribute the funds to counties and nonprofits. Those counties and nonprofits would then be able to award low-interest loans and grants to eligible applicants for any of the following purposes:
- extending or connecting service lines from a water or wastewater system to their residence or plumbing;
- paying reasonable charges or fees for connecting to water or wastewater system;
- paying costs to close abandoned septic tanks and water wells;
- deepening an existing groundwater well;
- improving an existing groundwater well; and
- installing a water treatment system if the groundwater exceeds a primary or secondary drinking water standard, as defined under state law.
To become eligible to participate in this program, an applicant seeking a loan must:
- have a household income below the statewide median household income;
- have an ownership interest in the residence;
- be unable to obtain financial assistance at reasonable terms and conditions from private lenders and lack personal resources to undertake these improvements; and
- demonstrate an ability to repay the loan, which may be satisfied by obtaining a cosigner.
An eligible applicant for a grant shall meet the following criteria:
- have a household income that is 80 percent or less of the statewide median household income;
- have an ownership or leasehold interest in the residence;
- be unable to obtain financial assistance at reasonable terms and conditions from private lenders and lack the personal resources to undertake these improvements;
- a grant recipient shall repay to the county or qualified nonprofit organization the grant amount in full if that recipient sells the residence less than five years from the date that the grant agreement was signed; and
- a grant recipient shall repay to the county or qualified nonprofit organization any unused grant funds.
“This bill is the first step of many to help those who have had to rely on bottled water and endure taking showers in parking lots,” said Vidak. “This is an important measure for the Central Valley and I greatly appreciate the bipartisan support it has received throughout the legislative process.”