Washington, DC -- Today, Congress is moving to draft infrastructure legislation as Phase 4 of the stimulus package meant to boost the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In response, Food & Water Action Public Water-For-All Campaign Director, Mary Grant, issued the following statement:
“America’s water systems have been underfunded and neglected for decades. This pandemic is showing how badly our country is failing when it comes to the human right to water. We already knew people in every state don’t have access to running water on a normal day, but with slowing the spread of disease dependent on handwashing, the water crisis has never been more clear.
“We need Congress to include $12.5 billion in immediate assistance for municipal, nonprofit or rural water and wastewater providers to cover the cost of low-income water bill assistance, service restorations, shutoff moratoriums, and household water bill debt forgiveness. The National Association of Clean Water Agencies estimated that the pandemic will cost $12.5 billion in lost revenue due in part to household inability to pay and the direct costs of forgiving debt and restoring service.
“Congress also needs to require that all states, localities and utilities receiving funds stop all water shutoffs and restore service to previously disconnected residential customers during the COVID-19 public health emergency and for 180 days following the end of the emergency declaration. Right now, less than half of the country is protected from getting their water shut off.
“Responding to COVID-19 is important, but it’s not enough. We also need $35 billion in annual federal funding for public clean water and drinking water providers to get our country back on track and help jumpstart our economic recovery. It’s time to pass the Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability Act (HR 1417, S 611), to improve our water infrastructure, make service more affordable at all times, stimulate the economy and create up to nearly 1 million jobs across the country.”