Planning for the Year Ahead
By Shannon Dean
Vice President, Customer Service and Chief Citizenship Officer
With each new year, we reflect on the past and set priorities for the future. Although 2021 brought extraordinary challenges—including the ongoing pandemic, wildfires, and worsening drought conditions—California Water Service (Cal Water) looks to the future with a sense of purpose and confidence that we can build upon the great work our employees have done to provide quality, service, and value to our customers.
The much-needed rain and snow we experienced in December made a positive impact on water levels across California; however, we’re still in a drought and must continue our conservation efforts. We encourage our customers to check your home for leaks, take advantage of new and existing rebates, and request a free conservation kit, which includes a range of water-saving plumbing retrofit fixtures to make conserving water easier. Additionally, Cal Water customers can sign up for our one-of-a-kind, free Smart Landscape Tune-up Program, the most comprehensive in the state.
For our part, we continue to invest in conservation programs, building on our $65 million investment over the past 10 years. While conservation is critical, we’re looking beyond the surface to minimize the impact we have on climate change and climate change’s impact on our business. These programs not only help us mitigate drought conditions, but also save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
We’re also prioritizing our ongoing investment in infrastructure, which is critical to providing safe, clean water to the communities we serve, reducing water loss, and ensuring a strong, reliable infrastructure network of pipelines, treatment plants, wells, tanks, and pumps. We maintain high standards for our systems statewide by building, maintaining, and improving the physical structures that help deliver water to the 2 million Californians we serve.
Earlier this month, we urged Governor Newsom to include much-needed funding for water infrastructure in his recently released budget. These funds would help mitigate future floods and droughts and support important projects like water storage and recycling, flood and storm water management, and conservation and efficiency, among others. They would also support the extension of payment programs. The pandemic brought lasting impacts into the new year. We recognize the financial hardship our customers may still be facing this year as a result, and we want to continue supporting our communities in need.
Additionally, we continue to work with our customers on flexible payment options, plus a Customer Assistance Program (CAP) that provides a discount on the bill to income-qualified customers, to help relieve the burden we know many of our customers continue to feel. And, we just secured $20.8 million from the California Water & Wastewater Arrearage Program to help pay down customers’ past-due balances incurred during the height of COVID-19.
As we have throughout our history, in 2022, we will continue to invest in the long-term health of our communities and improve the lives of our customers and neighbors. Earlier this month, we were excited to launch the Cal Water College Scholarship Program for the ninth straight year. We know the vibrancy of the communities we serve is tied to the educational opportunities afforded to students, and this program helps students in our service areas pay for college or vocational school by offering scholarships ranging from $2,500 to $10,000.
More broadly, we will strive to meet critical needs of and strengthen the 100+ communities we call home, through partnerships with local nonprofit organizations, employee volunteering opportunities, in-kind contributions, and financial donations. As a water provider and community partner, our purpose is to enhance the quality of life for our customers and communities, and we are committed to doing that year after year.
2022 is full of opportunities. Whatever the new year brings, Cal Water will continue to make good things happen in our communities and provide the safe, reliable water service our customers need to thrive.