New Sonoma Water relief program cuts sanitation rates in half for low-income residents

The program will allocate up to $1 million for qualified low-income property owners, but other Sonoma Water users will see a rate increase of 3.5% to 8.9%.|

A new relief program approved May 23 by the Sonoma County Water Agency will reduce sanitation rates by 50% of the total annual sewer service charge for qualified residential property owners.

Sonoma Water’s Sanitation Rate Relief Program will allocate up to $1 million for low-income property owners in the eight sanitation districts and zones managed by Sonoma Water, including the city of Sonoma and Valley of the Moon Water District.

According to Chris Coursey, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and of the Sonoma Water board, the program aims to help ease the financial strain on local residents by providing a significant discount on sewer service charges.

The board also approved sanitation rate increases for all districts and zones, ranging from 3.5% to 8.9%, depending upon the location designations.

Sonoma Water manages and operates the Sonoma Valley Sanitation County District, Occidental County Sanitation District, Russian River County Sanitation District, South Park County Sanitation District, Airport/Larkfield/Wikiup Sanitation Zone, Geyserville Sanitation Zone, Penngrove Sanitation Zone and Sea Ranch Sanitation Zone.

According to the agency, “rate increases are necessary for the maintenance and replacement of aging infrastructure, and deferred maintenance to maintain the integrity of these publicly-owned assets and to responsibly manage the systems in a way that protects public health and the environment.”

To be eligible for the Sanitation Rate Relief Program, property owners in the eight districts or zones must be billed for sewer services on their property tax bill, own their home and live in it as their primary residence.

Nonprofit organizations can also apply for the program, as long as they rent 85% or more of the property to tenants who have household earnings of 60% or less of the area median family income.

Sonoma Water began accepting applications on May 24 for the Sanitation Rate Relief Program for the next fiscal year, (July 1 through June 30, 2024). All applications are due by July 10. Applications will be accepted until funds are exhausted, at which point a waiting list will be maintained. Applications must be renewed every year.

For more information or to obtain a Sanitation Rate Relief Program application, visit, call 707-521-1885 or email

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