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Water companies and their essential employees keep water flowing during health crisis

Activists use pandemic to push unsound policy proposals

We are, without a doubt, living through a historic, unprecedented time that has brought enormous challenges and uncertainties to the doorstep of every American household – a record spike in unemployment, a paralyzed economy, and public health concerns that most have never seen in their lifetime.

Americans are glued to their televisions or online news sources for the latest on the COVID-19 pandemic and to learn how they can best protect themselves and their loved ones. The guidance from health experts – including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization – makes it clear that one of the most effective ways to protect yourself is to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.

Because water is crucial to fighting this virus, there has been a lot of discussion recently about access to water. Water company employees, deemed essential at the state and federal levels, remain on the frontline to ensure that safe water keeps flowing to all American households. At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, NAWC member companies were quick to commit to keeping water flowing regardless of customers’ ability to pay. This is simply the right thing to do; water companies did not sit around and wait for state or federal mandates.

Even as the country unites to get through this difficult time and as Congress provides overwhelming, bipartisan support to help those in need, sustain the economy, and ensure investments are being made in infrastructure – all objectives that are vitally important – some activists are trying to use this as an opportunity to push unsound policy proposals. Our nation’s current crisis should not be used as a vehicle for advancing fringe policy based on false narratives.

A recent opinion piece in The Hill included ridiculous, unsubstantiated claims against water companies, stating erroneously that “private control” of water systems causes “chronic underinvestment” in infrastructure and concluding falsely that government is always best suited to manage community water systems.

The authors provided absolutely zero evidence to support these claims. In fact, the evidence shows that the very opposite is true. The ten largest NAWC member companies are investing more every year in community water systems than the federal government’s largest water programs combined. Additionally, study after study shows that the water provided by water companies is of higher quality than the water provided by government-run systems.

Out-of-touch activists are, unfortunately, using this public health crisis as their opportunity to advance their ideology that water should only be provided by governments, despite the strong infrastructure investment and water quality record of water companies.  This is a textbook fallacy and one we are confident the public and decisionmakers are wise enough to see.

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