| AWWA advocating for water utility, water customer assistance due to pandemic
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AWWA advocating for water utility, water customer assistance due to pandemic

To support the water sector’s ability to maintain safe and reliable service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) is urging its U.S. members to communicate their need for federal assistance with their elected leaders in Congress.

AWWA’s staff in Washington, D.C., are actively monitoring the legislative landscape as pandemic relief and recovery bills are discussed. They are communicating daily with supporting the water sector through COVID-19congressional staff, AWWA’s Water Utility Council and other water organizations, and advocating that future coronavirus legislation includes economic support for the water sector.

“Members of Congress and their staffs are meeting now to discuss upcoming rounds of stimulus legislation, and we urge our members to act now to communicate with their representatives about the water sector’s economic needs and the needs of low-income water customers,” said Tommy Holmes, AWWA’s legislative director.

“We also need Congress to understand the extent to which water utilities are overcoming the challenges of dealing with this pandemic in staffing and operations,” he added.

Although AWWA cancelled its annual Water Matters! Fly-In scheduled for this week due to the pandemic, the Association issued an alert to Fly-In delegates and utility members with a letter template to send to members of Congress.

The letter urges Congress to support the protection of water and wastewater systems during this critical time. Any water system issuing a letter is asked to send a copy and any responses from Congress to Tommy Holmes.

There are three major topic areas impacting the water sector under discussion:

  • Assistance for low-income water customers and others having difficulty paying water bills
  • Assistance for water utilities experiencing significant revenue shortfalls from business and school usage declines, as well as moratoriums on shutting off water service to delinquent customers
  • Investment in U.S. water infrastructure to spur economic growth, create jobs and protect human and environmental health

To clearly demonstrate these needs, AWWA and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies commissioned a study by Raftelis to measure the financial impact of COVID-19 on U.S. drinking water utilities. The report, released last week, estimates that revenue shortfalls may reduce economic activity by $32.7 billion and cost 75,000 to 90,000 private sector jobs.

Other AWWA resources addressing COVID-19 are available on its Coronavirus Resource Page.