New Issue Briefs Explore Utility Shutoffs in the U.S. by Race and Income, COVID-19 Effects on Water Demand, and More

July 2, 2020, Oakland, California – U.S. communities of color face higher risks of utility shutoffs, in addition to disproportionately lacking access to clean drinking water and sanitation and facing greater impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new Issue Brief from the Pacific Institute.

Water and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Equity Dimensions of Utility Disconnections in the U.S. finds that Black households that receive a utility shutoff warning notice are more than twice as likely to be disconnected as White households receiving a notice. Native American and mixed-race households are also disproportionately impacted by utility disconnections compared to other races. The brief includes suggestions for further research, including expanding the analysis to include Latinx households and exploring how race and income affect shutoff rates. 

Water and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Ensuring Access to Water as Shutoff Moratoriums Lift, another Issue Brief in the series, explores solutions to ensuring the most vulnerable members of communities in the U.S. are not disconnected from essential water services for lack of ability to pay as shutoff moratoriums are lifted, while allowing water utilities to maintain financial stability.

The third in the series, Water and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Impacts on Municipal Water Demand, examines the pandemic’s impacts on water demand in the U.S., and finds that changes in demand have affected utility expenditures and revenue, customer bills, building water quality, and operational conditions.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed massive health and economic burdens on communities around the world, and no sector of society is going untouched, including the vitally important water sector,” says Heather Cooley, Director of Research at the Pacific Institute and author of one of the Issue Briefs. “These Briefs underscore the importance of considering equity when evaluating the pandemic’s effects on communities, and the urgent need to bolster water resilience in response to a more variable and uncertain future.”

Learn more and download Water and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Equity Dimensions of Utility Disconnections in the U.S. here

Learn more and download Water and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Ensuring Access to Water as Shutoff Moratoriums Lift here

Learn more and download Water and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Impacts on Municipal Water Demand here

Read the blog post “Water and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Impacts on Municipal Water Demand” here. 

Explore more of our work on COVID-19 and water here