Richmond, VA -- In a sign-on letter released today by Food & Water Action, a coalition of over 17 Virginia organizations, which includes Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, Indivisible Virginia, and Virginia Justice Democrats, is making the call for Northam to place a moratorium on water shut-offs due to nonpayment, restore water service to all those currently without it, and waive all late fees on water bills until the pandemic outbreak has ended.
The demand takes on particular urgency as news this morning reveals utilities are still threatening Virginians with water shutoffs.
The call comes after governors in 13 other states, including California, Ohio, and New Jersey, have taken action to stop water shut-offs. As millions of Americans find themselves quarantined in their homes, leaving families without water amounts to a public health crisis, in part because it cuts households off from handwashing, the first line of defense to halt the spread of the virus.
“Water is a human right and a basic necessity,” says Jolene Mafnas, Virginia organizer for Food & Water Action, echoing the letter’s language. “No family should have to make the choice between paying the water bill and buying groceries right now, and without a moratorium that decision will become increasingly likely for thousands facing unemployment due to the COVID-19 crisis. In order to fight coronavirus together, we all need access to essential resources -- and water is first and foremost on that list. We ask Governor Northam to honor the sacrifices being made across the state right now by ensuring that everyone has access to water.”
"Getting through this crisis will require our state leaders to prioritize the health and wellbeing of all Virginians,” says Gustavo Angeles, Environmental Justice Coordinator for the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter. “Our Governor can show that he is accomplishing this by considering access to water as an essential service."