Seattle, WA— Today, Food & Water Action, a national advocacy organization with more than 30,000 members and supporters in Washington, called on Governor Jay Inslee to immediately halt water shutoffs due to nonpayment and to restore service to all disconnected customers. The group also called on the Governor to waive late fees or reconnection fees. As of Sunday, April 5, 11 states and Washington, D.C., have suspended water shutoffs for all water providers. The governors of California, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin have also ordered service to be restored.
Despite being the first state with a confirmed case of COVID-19, Governor Inslee has lagged behind other governors who have taken action to ensure access to running water during the crisis. Based on public statements and reports, six out of the state’s 25 largest water providers by service population have not stopped shutoffs or restored service, leaving nearly half a million people unprotected from water shutoffs. Only two of the largest providers have started restoring service. The state’s largest private water utility also does not have such policies in place.
In response, Thomas Meyer, a Seattle resident, and Food & Water Action’s Regional Organizing Manager issued the following statement:
“It has been 75 days since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Washington. It is shameful that Governor Inslee has not yet used his full authority to guarantee access to water for everyone in our state during this crisis. It is simply not enough to rely on voluntary actions by individual utilities and private companies. Washington residents who are staying home to help stop the spread of COVID-19 must have access to water, and workers who have lost jobs and benefits cannot be further burdened by the threat of late fees and penalties. As more lives are lost every day, Governor Inslee must act immediately to guarantee access to water for all Washingtonians.”