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OPEN LETTER: No Water Shutoffs in California During the COVID-19 Crisis

Dear Public Water Agency Board Members and Management Teams:

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in California, our request to you today is very simple. We are asking you to do two things as a sign of solidarity, support, and care for your ratepayers. 

First, whether you represent a retail water agency, a special interest district that sells water supplies to agencies for municipal and industrial use, or an association of water agencies, we ask you to quickly develop and communicate a water service shutoff moratorium in response to the COVID-19 crisis.  

Water for handwashing and general household cleaning is essential to stop the spread of the disease and to save lives. With hundreds of thousands of Californians applying for unemployment benefits and thousands facing the reality of increased medical bills, we need public water agencies to step up and help those in financial distress.

Second, we are asking you to place your water shutoff moratorium policy in a visible place on your websites, in your billing statements, and in recordings for your utility phone service. A quick survey has found that many water districts and city utility departments around the state have not handled this simple communication effectively, even when they have such a policy in place. An example of an agency that has communicated at no-shut-offs policy, reasonably well is East Bay Municipal Utility District. We hope every water district handles the creation and communication of such a policy as well as EBMUD.

State government, cities, counties, hospitals, first-responders are working beyond full capacity. Getting California’s public water agencies to do the right thing should not require requests from the public to the Governor for assistance. California water agencies have the resources to bend, to help, and to care for the communities they serve, just like the other public agencies on the front lines. Now is the time for California public water agencies to show that they support ratepayers in economic distress during this time of need. 

Here is a list of agencies showing leadership on this issue. Californians need every public water agency to join this list as soon as possible.


Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla

Executive Director

Restore the Delta