WASHINGTON, DC, MARCH 26, 2020 -- Publicly owned water and wastewater utilities are asking Congress for $12.5 billion to offset revenue lost in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The utility companies, whose request comes from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) say they are suffering a drop in services provided to industrial and commercial users forced to halt operations due to “stay at home” orders, and are being asked to restore service to customers unable to pay their bills at this time.
Without federal assistance, the “cost of writing off customer debt owed to the utility and reinstating service” will be passed on to water customers, the group said.
“With Congress moving at a rapid pace on crafting the draft stimulus package, NACWA has been in daily communication with House and Senate authorizers and appropriators to share ongoing information, impacts, and ideas relayed to NACWA from our members as we work to ensure any final stimulus package includes assistance to help the public clean water sector mitigate current and potential future impacts from the ongoing epidemic,” the organization said in a statement.
NACWA estimates the impact to clean water utilities nationwide of lost revenues due to coronavirus at $12.5 Billion, while estimating the impact to clean water utilities nationwide of forgiving outstanding customer debt and ensuring all households retain clean water services at $336 Million.
In a statement, Adam Krantz, NACWA’s Chief Executive Officer, said, “Clean water agencies provide life-sustaining services that protect public health and will work through this crisis alongside other first responders in our communities. Utilities are closely tracking CDC and EPA guidance, and current disinfection conditions in treatment plants are expected to be sufficient to protect public health. Federal assistance targeted to addressing the burden on ratepayers and making utilities whole for doing their part to ease the pandemic – maintaining and restoring access to services – is critically needed at this time.”