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

Published: July 2020

Authors: Lillian Holmes, Morgan Shimabuku, Laura Feinstein, Greg Pierce, Peter H. Gleick, and Sarah Diringer

Pages: 6



Water is essential to public health. While the vast majority of American households served by water utilities receive a reliable supply of high-quality drinking water, there remain homes where water and wastewater services have been shut off or disconnected due to non-payment. Given the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, ensuring safe water for all is an increasingly urgent public health and racial justice issue.

This Issue Brief provides a summary of what is currently known about differences in utility disconnections due to non-payment in the U.S. across income, race, and housing type. It finds that Black, Native American, and mixed-race households are disproportionately impacted by utility disconnections compared to other races, and includes recommendations to address gaps in data collection that will help inform effective and equitable policy, program design, and implementation.

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