Here for Our Communities in Every Season

December 21, 2023
by Kevin McCusker, Manager, Community Affairs

Cal Water employees at a community eventIn communities up and down the state, we at Cal Water are dedicated to being so much more than a provider of safe and reliable water service. We are members of our communities, committed to doing our part to provide support that enhances the quality of life in the areas we serve. We are honored by the impact we’ve been able to make through programs such as our firefighter grants, college scholarships, customer assistance, and even local donation drives and neighborhood events.

In 2023, we awarded $75,000 in college scholarships to 12 remarkable students across our service areas for the 2023–2024 academic year. These students—eight of whom are first-generation college students—are studying subjects from environmental and aerospace engineering to chemistry and psychology.

Over the years, we’ve also embraced local fire departments to support the work they do to provide rescue and emergency services. This year, Cal Water’s fifth annual Firefighter Grant Program awarded more than $186,000 in grants to eight fire departments in our districts, more than three times the $60,000 allocated when the program began in 2019. Among those receiving grants in 2023 were the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department and its need for a Seek Thermal FirePRO X camera to recognize victims, fires, and escape routes in low- to-zero-visibility conditions, as well as the Oroville Fire Department for 10 handheld thermal imaging cameras that help firefighters quickly recognize movement in smoke-filled rooms.

Of course, we remain focused on supporting customers and ensuring that they consistently have access to a safe, clean, reliable water supply. This year, in cooperation with the California Department of Community Services & Development (CSD), we were able to help many customers struggling to pay their water bills through the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), a federally funded program that offers a one-time benefit of up to $15,000 per household for past-due or current water or wastewater bills. We actively promoted awareness and accessibility to LIHWAP through public service announcements and local pop-up events, where we helped eligible customers apply for the benefit and learn about other resources and programs available to them.

Finally, we again joined our neighbors in supporting community food and toy drives, as well as other events throughout our service areas. In Los Angeles, our Rancho Dominguez District donated $7,500 and our East Los Angeles District donated $10,000 to their local California Highway Patrol’s toy drives in December.

In Salinas and King City, Cal Water partnered with local legislators and charitable organizations in November for our annual Operation Gobble distribution, donating $10,500 and an additional $8,500 in Butterball turkey gift certificates to organizations helping those in need in the Salinas Valley area. Our King City District also hosted Operation Santa Claus, in which it partnered with Supervisor Chris Lopez and other local companies to provide toys for 1,100 kids and 400 meal kits for families.

Throughout California, our districts worked to give back to their communities and support those in need—not just during the holiday season, but throughout the rest of the year as well, whether it was Livermore’s Socktober drive for Tri-Valley Haven, which offers services to individuals and families who are homeless or in need, to the summer annual Veggie Box Fundraiser for Rancho Cielo Youth in Salinas.

While our top priority is to ensure that our communities have access to safe, clean, reliable water service, we remain committed to so much more. We recognize that being part of a community means supporting each other, investing in our futures, and lending a helping hand where we can. We are proud of the work that we do and the impact that our efforts have on others, and we look forward to another year of being here for our communities in 2024.