Supporting Our Customers and Communities
The districts we serve are the communities we have called home for more than 90 years. That’s why we are committed to investing in the long-term health of our communities and improving the quality of life for our customers and neighbors. By meeting local needs and fulfilling our promise to provide quality, service, and value every day, we are able to help our customers and districts thrive.
Delivering Safe, High-quality Drinking Water
The health of our customers and their families depends on the quality of the water we deliver. We provide safe, high-quality drinking water that meets or surpasses more than 240 federal and state water quality standards through our extensive water quality assurance program.
Beyond the comprehensive, routine treatment, testing, and monitoring we conduct throughout our water systems, we have implemented several additional initiatives and programs. We collect more than 70,000 water samples from our water systems and conduct more than 400,000 water quality tests every year.
Promoting Affordability and Access
We work hard to make water service affordable and accessible to those we serve by operating efficiently, managing our water supply responsibly, charging rates that reflect the actual costs of service, and providing payment assistance to low-income customers.
Even with our strong record of investment, our delivery of high-quality water, our exceptional customer service, and the rising cost of delivering a reliable supply that meets increasingly stringent standards, customers still pay less than a penny per gallon in our service areas. In addition to our Low-Income Ratepayer Assistance (LIRA) program, our Rate Support Fund provides a subsidy that offsets the monthly bill for all customers in our highest-cost districts.
Low-Income Ratepayer Assistance (LIRA) Program
Safeguarding Our Systems, Data, and Facilities
We protect the security of our systems, data, and facilities by investing in the right people, processes, and technology to prevent unauthorized access and keep our customers and business safe. Our robust approach to cybersecurity and data privacy includes policies, procedures, and programs aligned with leading standards and in compliance with all regulatory requirements.
Each year, we provide our employees and contractors with refreshed, online security awareness training and engage expert consultants to validate our controls and identify any deficiencies. We also partner with a third party-managed Security Operations Center (SOC) to monitor network traffic 24/7 and detect, evaluate, and respond to cybersecurity threats and incidents in real time.
Meeting the Needs of Our Neighbors
We partner with local nonprofit organizations through volunteerism, in-kind contributions, and financial donations to meet critical needs and strengthen the 100+ communities we call home. In 2020, we donated more than $1.7 million to community organizations that provide veteran services, assistance for at-risk or underserved communities, educational services, disaster response, healthcare, and animal welfare services; groups that support economic growth and environmental sustainability; and local first responders.
To equip the next generation of leaders in our service areas, we established our College Scholarship Program to assist students who plan to continue their education in college or vocational school. Since the program was founded, we have awarded $440,000 in scholarships to 145 future leaders.
Engaging our Stakeholders
By fostering two-way dialogue with stakeholders in our local communities, we are able to build relationships, address concerns, and receive input that allows us to continually improve. To achieve this, we participate in several business and industry organizations and partner closely with local city council members, county supervisors, Chambers of Commerce members, and other engaged leaders.
Preparing for Emergencies
We diligently invest in planning, training, relationship development, and infrastructure maintenance to ensure a reliable supply of water to our customers and communities, even in times of emergency or crisis. In addition to our Emergency Operations Centers, we have Emergency Response Plans for each district and Emergency Action Guidebooks for our employees, which enable us to prepare, respond, and recover from potential emergencies quickly and effectively. We’ve also launched more than 40 projects in 13 service territories to address potential wildfire risks.
Firefighter Grant Program
We established a Firefighter Grant Program to support and recognize local fire departments that serve our districts in California. Through this program, we award grants to enable fire departments to purchase life-saving equipment and gear or provide education and training. In 2020, we awarded $148,500 to fire departments across our communities.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, we worked to support our communities, not only by keeping their water systems running and providing the water they needed to stay safe, but also by assisting those facing financial difficulties. We provided more than $400,000 in one-time hardship grants to customers who fell behind on payments during the pandemic. We were the first water utility in California to voluntarily suspend water service disconnections for those unable to pay their bills and restored service to those who were previously disconnected for non-payment. And, to further help our customers, we also took the unique step within the water utility industry to ask the California Public Utilities Commission to defer any rate increases in 2020.