What do you do when you turn on your faucet and no water comes out? We estimate that 15 million Americans faced that problem in 2016 when they fell behind on their water bills and their water was shut off.
Our organization, Food & Water Watch, surveyed the two largest public water systems in each state to determine how many of their residential customers had lost their water for failing to pay their bill. Seventy-three providers responded. The results shocked us.
The water systems that responded shut off an average of 5 percent of their residential customers, totaling more than a half-million households and affecting an estimated 1.4 million people. The highest shut-off rates took place in cities with high rates of poverty and unemployment. Based on these findings, we estimate that water was shut off to 15 million people nationwide in 2016.