Contact: Nils Robbins
For Immediate Release
MAJOR CITIES CALL ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE WATER ACCESS FOR THOSE MOST IN NEED DURING CORONAVIRUS
Elected Democrats from cities across the country have signed on to Democratic Municipal Officials’ resolution calling for federal support of water access to combat COVID-19
Detroit, MI, May 11th, 2020 –
Elected officials from major American cities have joined the Democratic Municipal Officials’ (DMO) campaign calling on the federal government to provide essential water access during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Officials from Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Savannah, and the District of Columbia have signed on to the effort, which asks Congress to establish a fund to ensure that a lack of ability to pay your water bill should not result in a discontinuation of service. This call to action comes at a time when sanitation, especially hand washing, is essential for preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The campaign, inspired by DMO President and Detroit Council Member Scott Benson, recognizes the need for continuity of water service as a necessary component of community health. The DMO resolution calls on Congress to fund a national water affordability program, pointing to the existing Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) as a successful model. The resolution further calls for federal support to update building units to prevent water loss and make water delivery more efficient.
In any given month, 1 out of every 100 households are unable to pay their water bills. Those most frequently unable to afford water include the elderly, the disabled, and low-income families. The resulting fallout includes everything from compounding late fees to complete water shut off. At a time when Americans are struggling to pay the bills due to layoffs and reduced hours, and public health policy necessitates hand washing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, maintaining steady access to water regardless of temporary inability to pay is essential. And even after the pandemic has abated, temporary inability to pay should not have long term impacts on households’ access to water for drinking and cleaning.
DMO President Scott Benson spearheaded the campaign, basing it off his own water security efforts locally. “This a great opportunity to ensure water security for all of our residents throughout the United States. As city leaders, we want to make sure that Congress includes local services like water, the basic ability for people to wash their hands and clothing, in the bigger picture of coronavirus recovery efforts. Our people are hurting right now, and a family should not have to choose between keeping their water on and paying other bills.”
Council Member Bob Blumenfield introduced the resolution in his own city of Los Angeles. “With California consistently on the verge of the next drought, water security is always top of mind. On a local level I’m proud to have advanced conservation efforts like gray water usage, championed our parks and LA River, and increased funding to improve our urban tree canopy. It’s critical that we galvanize cities large and small to join DMO and Los Angeles in calling on the federal government to create a national water affordability program. Water is a basic human necessity and we need to do everything we can so that the most vulnerable in our community has easy and affordable access.”
“At a time in our lives when many of the essentials are in short supply, water cannot and must not be one of them,” said Philadelphia City Councilmember Derek S. Green. “I’m championing water security for the health, wellbeing and longevity of each and every person in our city, as well as in our country.”
Dozens of local elected officials have signed on in support of the DMO resolution, and others have been inspired to introduce similar legislation in their cities and states. Democratic Municipal Officials will continue advocating for water security not only at the local level, but in their urgent request to Congress to include these provisions in upcoming COVID-19 recovery legislation.
DMO is the Democratic National Committee (DNC) association for municipal elected officials who personally identify as members of the Democratic Party. The organization holds three seats on the DNC, and advocates for the tens of thousands of local elected Democrats across the United States.
For more information, please call 202-770-8053 or email Nils.Robbins@nationaldmo.org