Letter to the California Congressional Delegation on COVID-19 Response

May 13, 2020

RE: Include Urgently Needed Funding for Water Infrastructure and Water Affordability Needs in Next Congressional Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader McCarthy and Members of the California Congressional Delegation:

Our organizations collectively represent both California frontline communities as well as over 450 California water agencies and other water and environmental stakeholders. In this time of crisis, we have come together to urge the California Congressional Delegation to include funding for urgent water infrastructure and water affordability needs as part of the next federal stimulus package or other pending Congressional actions.

We urge you to take the following steps as part of the next federal stimulus package or other pending water or infrastructure-related Congressional actions:

  1. $100 billion in new funding over five years for Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, with at least 20 percent of the new funding distributed to disadvantaged communities as additional subsidization (grants) rather than loans and eligibility for the new funding for all water systems, regardless of their organizational structure.
  2. $4 billion in immediate funding to the Environmental Protection Agency for grants to the states for a Low-Income Households Drinking Water and Wastewater Assistance/Affordability Program to help struggling households pay for essential water and wastewater service.
  3. Emergency funding for affected water utilities, particularly serving disadvantaged or hard-hit communities, to help offset lost revenue, the costs associated with moratoriums on shutoffs, and the essential public health protections being put in place by water utilities.
  4. Shutoff moratorium/safe reconnection provision that ensures every American has access to water in their homes now and through the duration of the COVID-19 crisis and that allows for relief to vulnerable customers for a time afterwards to regain their financial footing while also providing needed fiscal support to water systems.

While not a comprehensive list of the actions our various organizations believe should be taken, these do represent meaningful, and we believe necessary, steps to meet both immediate and long-term drinking water needs of Californians while also boosting the economy and helping preserve access to the most fundamental tool in our arsenal to address the spread of COVID-19 -- washing your hands.

We urge the California delegation to champion this issue in the coming weeks. We also encourage you to join your colleagues from the House Environmental Justice Taskforce and the Senate Environmental Justice Caucus as they push for Stimulus provisions to support what Californians and the nation need to ensure both immediate and long-term responses to this crisis and beyond.

Download the rest of the letter here.

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