The Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA) has joined with other related water associations, including the WateReuse Association, the Water Environment Federation, the American Water Works Association, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the US Water Alliance, and others in calling on Congressional leadership to ensure the next COVID-19 relief package addresses the impact the coronavirus is having on drinking water, clean water, and recycling systems. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have designed the water and wastewater sector’s workers as essential, allowing them to continue to work during the pandemic to maintain the continuity and availability of safe and clean water for U.S. citizens.
As the pandemic unfolds, it’s becoming apparent the economic impacts on these water systems’ budgets will be significant. Specifically, the clean water sector estimates a $16.8 billion impact on its utilities, which includes a substantial amount of lost revenue approximating $12.5 billion. The lost revenue is attributable to non-residential demand declines, as industries shutter and many consumers are unable to pay bills due to economic hardship. The latter is estimated to result in a $4 billion loss. For the drinking water sector, the impacts are also significant with $13.9 billion in annualized revenue losses anticipated, including approximately $5 billion related to not suspending service for delinquent accounts and a rise in the number of delinquent accounts. Further financial challenges are posed by systems having to sustain emergency operations
during the pandemic. Specific requests related to the above challenges include providing Federal assistance to cover the costs associated with maintaining service to households that are unable to pay and assistance to help mitigate lost revenues due to shuttering key parts of the economy.
Lastly, the letter goes on to remind Congress about the critical infrastructure needs that remain unmet and how addressing those needs would not only provide crucial environmental and health benefits, but significant economic benefits at a time when the nation is in need of such an economic stimulus. A copy of the letter is available HERE.