"Wash your hands ... and stay at home."
This is lifesaving advice from public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in light of the current COVID-19 crisis.
But what if you don't have running water in your home? This is the reality for a staggering number of households across the country right now — many of whom have had their water service shut off, often for being behind on their unaffordable water bills. In fact, some homes have been without water for weeks, months, or even years.
During this health crisis, water service is critical in ensuring that households can take steps to safeguard themselves through hand-washing and house sanitizing. And anyone sheltering at home needs water for drinking and cooking.
So we must call on governors in states across the country to do everything they can to make sure water service is restored to all households that have had their water disconnected.
Urge Gov. Ducey to ensure all Arizona residents have immediate access to running water and emergency water distribution stations as necessary.
No one, regardless of race, gender, income, or geographic location should go without water services at any time ... especially not during a pandemic.
Specifically, we're urging U.S. governors to use every available legal authority to:
- Stop residential water shutoffs for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, extending until 120-days after the end of the declared health emergency to allow people time to regain their financial footing
- Ensure that utilities reconnect households without water as quickly as possible, proactively and without the need for a customer to make a specific request
- Ensure that water reconnections are done safely, for both residents and workers
- Where necessary, establish emergency water distribution stations for households waiting for their water to be turned back on
- Make sure utilities waive late fees, interest, and related charges, suspend the use of liens as a collection practice, and provide extended repayment plans after the crisis
Some states have already required water, electric, and gas utilities to place a moratorium on shutoffs during the crisis, although very few have done so for water. And many utilities have already made this commitment themselves. That is progress.
But we must ensure that every governor explicitly uses their executive authority to mandate moratoriums on shutoffs in their state, and to require utilities to restore safe service to all households that have been disconnected.
Tell Gov. Ducey to make sure utility services are restored to all households in the safest and most efficient way possible — and to ban future shutoffs during the crisis!
We must ensure that all families have access to safe water and energy when they need it most. It's a basic human right.
- Mae Wu, Healthy People and Thriving Communities Program, NRDC
CDC website for important tips on how to avoid COVID-19 exposure.