Pandemic shines a light on critical water issues — will Congress fund solutions?
Our days now are clouded with uncertainty. How long will the COVID-19 crisis last? What immediate health effects and long-term economic damage will we experience? What’s the best protocol for staying safe and healthy?
On that last front, we know one thing for sure: We need to wash our hands well and often. And for that we need clean, running water.
But so far the federal legislative responses to the novel coronavirus crisis have not included financial support for water utilities, most of which are public agencies. And there’s been no federal mandate to prevent water shutoffs for households unable to pay their bills.
“We’ve known that water is a priority, but it’s just not the top priority,” says David Zielonka, communications manager for the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, which represents public wastewater and stormwater agencies. “There’s been incentive and motivation on both sides to include it [in upcoming legislation], but getting it into the final package hasn’t happened yet.”