Special to the
The U.S. Water Alliance has joined more than 200 organizations in endorsing four principles to secure our water future as the nation plans for recovery and relief from COVID-19. Water is a critical element of public health.
As the country is in a public health crisis, relief and recovery measures must include both individuals who need access to clean water to survive, and institutions and organizations that provide essential water service to communities. The principles were released by the US Water Alliance on April 3 and immediately endorsed by more than 200 organizations, ranging from labor unions to water utilities to policy advocates and more.
The principles knit together enduring water issues critical at this time: who has access to it, who manages it, how it is paid for, and how all communities are kept safe and healthy. The high-level principles are:
1) Ensure water is reliable and affordable for all
2) Strengthen water utilities of all sizes
3) Close the water access gap and
4) Fuel economic recovery by investing water systems.
Read the full text of the principles and list of endorsing organizations by visiting:
“Water is a challenging and vital issue all the time, but especially during a public health crisis,” said US Water Alliance CEO Radhika Fox. “We believe there are challenges and opportunities worthy of attention and discussion at every level of government right now. None of the four principles can stand alone, it is only by addressing all of our multi-faceted water issues can we ensure safe, healthy, and thriving communities.”
Many water utilities across the country have declared a moratorium on water shutoffs since the COVID-19 outbreak, which helps alleviate concerns for people who didn’t have access to water in their homes. But utilities will lose revenue from residential customers who do not pay their bills and will lose more revenue from commercial customers that have shuttered during the pandemic, including restaurants, hotels, breweries, manufacturing plants and sports and entertainment arenas. Meanwhile, utilities are incurring more costs because of emergency response measures, and keeping their essential workers protected.
Even as utilities re-institute water service to customers, there are who never had indoor plumbing and access to water before the pandemic. Estimates are that two million Americans live day-to-day without access to water, and they need additional emergency measures to keep them safe right now. Beyond the pandemic, the country should prioritize an action plan to close the water access gap.
Finally, as federal and state governments consider economic recovery packages, research shows investing in water systems pays incredible dividends and can benefit communities in a myriad of ways, including economic and environmental benefits. These are complex issues and will need strong partners at every level to ensure an equitable recovery and secure water future for all.
For more information and updates, visit www.uswateralliance.org.