Clean water and good hygiene are an essential pair to fight back against the coronavirus pandemic, yet water shutoffs in low-income homes are happening in all 50 states, according to Food & Water Action’s Public Water for All Campaign. Efforts to suspend tap water shutoffs during the economic turmoil were foiled when the $1.5 billion provision was dropped from the giant $2 trillion-Phase 3 bill that just passed Congress. The president is expected to quickly sign the legislation.
The water assistance proposal intended to cover water utilities’ costs and keep tap water flowing to people who would otherwise have had water access shutoff for past due payments. The funding assistance was modeled after the longstanding energy and heating program LIHEAP. States and Native American tribes would submit requests to the federal government on behalf of municipalities and utilities, who would then allocate need-based funding to those water providers. Eligible households would have their water bills paid.
Despite the unsuccessful attempt to anti-shutoff occurring all around the country, by many lawmakers and citizen groups are pushing forward to pass the provision in the US House as a standalone bill or any future coronoavirus emergency bills. Many states and municipalities are stepping up and using their authority to halt water shutoffs.