Harrisburg, PA -- As coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania top 13,000, Food & Water Action is calling for an immediate statewide moratorium on water shutoffs and for the restoration of water to those for whom it is currently shut off.
While the state’s Public Utility Commission issued a shutoff moratorium last month, the order does not extend to all municipal utilities or small private utilities, and also does not restore service to those whose water had been shut off before the pandemic. Governors in Ohio, California, Michigan and Wisconsin have already taken these crucial steps.
Megan McDonough, Pennsylvania Organizing Manager at Food & Water Action, has issued the following statement:
“In this time of unprecedented crisis, Governor Wolf must issue an executive order stopping water shutoffs for the reason of nonpayment, restoring water to those who’ve had their service disconnected for nonpayment, and waiving all late fees. With families across the state losing employment and income because of COVID-19, the last thing households need to worry about is losing their access to running water. No one should have to choose between buying groceries and keeping their faucets running right now.
“Access to safe drinking water is a human right, and to put people at risk of losing their water in this time of present danger is especially inhumane. Aside from using water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning, we also know that handwashing is the first line of defense against the virus’s spread -- and with so many confined to their homes with shelter-in-place orders, leaving communities without the ability to wash their hands is a public health disaster.
“While the Public Utility Commission’s order halting water shutoffs was a good start to addressing the crisis, it has no jurisdiction over municipal utilities, and failed to order utilities to restore water to households where it is already shut off. The only way to adequately tackle the issue is for the governor to issue an executive order placing a statewide moratorium on water shutoffs with immediate service restoration and waiving of late fees. Governor Wolf, we are waiting.”