Washington, DC— Today, the House of Representatives endorsed a national moratorium on water service disconnections with service restoration as part of the HEROES Act, the latest coronavirus stimulus package, which passed by a vote of 208 to 199.
Several provisions of the broad legislation require all states and municipalities receiving assistance from the bill to ensure home water service continuity by suspending shutoffs for nonpayment, reconnecting all service and waiving all late fees during the emergency. The legislation also includes $1.5 billion in grants to states and indigenous communities to assist water providers in reducing water and wastewater bills for low-income households and households experiencing COVID related-job loss.
In response, Food & Water Action Public Water for All Campaign Director Mary Grant issued the following statement:
“We’re pleased that the House has answered the demands of grassroots water advocates by endorsing a national moratorium on water service disconnections and requiring service restoration during the pandemic. Before the economic devastation of the pandemic, millions of people in our country struggled with unaffordable water bills with water shutoffs impacting every U.S. state. Now, with record-breaking unemployment, unaffordable water bills pose a danger at a scale that we have never seen before. No person should suffer the trauma caused by losing essential water service necessary for taking care of themselves and their families.
“While there are significant problems with other aspects of the HEROES Act, the water service elements of the bill are outstanding and necessary.
“Though more than 650 localities and 15 states suspended water disconnections for nonpayment because of the emergency, many of these local actions have expired or will expire soon as increasing numbers of states lift stay at home orders. Meanwhile, more than one-third of this country — 120 million people – was never protected from water shutoffs. In more than 10 states and at least dozens of localities from Russellville, Alabama, to Clark, Missouri to Bayard, New Mexico, people have lost water service for nonpayment during the pandemic
“We demand that the Senate act quickly to deliver on the human right to water by passing a national water shutoff moratorium with service restoration for all. We cannot leave any community without water.”
Food & Water Action has been providing a live tracker of local and state action on water during the pandemic. State action expiration dates are also listed. See here.