The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Email:,info(at)fwwatch(dot)org,Seth Gladstone -,

Stopping Water Shutoffs Locally Not Enough: We Need a National Ban and Service Restoration Plan

Only 17% of municipal water shut off moratoria include plans to reconnect previously disconnected households.


Today, Food & Water Action announced at least 113 municipal water systems and regulated utilities in eight states will not shut off water service for nonpayment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes six providers that never disconnect water service for nonpayment, and four systems that had pre-existing moratoria.

But of the systems enacting new moratoria, only 20 include publicly stated plans to also restore water service to those households previously disconnected. As a result, more than 75 million people are protected from water shutoffs across the country, but potentially thousands of residents who were previously disconnected from water service remain without water.

In 2018, Food & Water Watch released the nation's first water shutoff survey and found that the average utility disconnected 5 percent of its household customers. The survey estimated that 15 million Americans experienced a water shutoff in 2016.

Mary Grant, Food & Water Action, Water-For-All Campaign Director released the following statement:

"We applaud local and state leaders for stopping water shutoffs during this unprecedented crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought forth the dangers of our nation's water affordability crisis and has made it clear: Our country needs a national ban on water shutoffs for nonpayment with immediate restoration of service to all families who have lost water for an inability to pay their water bills.

"It is of the utmost importance for residents across this country to have running water to wash their hands to protect their health, the health of their families, and the health of their communities. In the absence of federal action to protect water access, our local leaders are rising to this challenge to help ensure their residents have water at home. They must go further and adopt aggressive plans to restore water service for those who were cut off prior to the moratorium."

Track Food & Water Action water shutoff data here.

Key Data

  • Eight state regulatory agencies have ordered water shutoff moratoria: Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
  • Wisconsin has ordered restoration of service, as well, and the order applies to all major water systems in the state.
  • 113 local water providers have stopped water shutoffs in 34 states; this is inclusive of six localities, including New York City, that never disconnect water for nonpayment and four localities that had pre-existing moratoria.
  • 18 out of the 103 new moratoria include plans to restore service to people previously disconnected. That's only 17%
  • Data collected in 2018 revealed Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida as states with the highest shutoff rates.
  • Oklahoma City, the city with the highest shutoff rate in our study, has announced a plan to temporarily suspend all water shutoffs for residents, in response to pressure from Rep. Craig Horn. There is no plan included to restore service.
  • New Orleans and regulated utilities in Louisiana are under a shutoff moratorium, protecting more than 2 million people from disconnections. While there is no statewide plan to restore service to previously shutoff residents, New Orleans is proactively working to restore water service to those customers who have been disconnected.
  • Jacksonville, Florida had one of the highest city-level shutoff rates affecting an estimated 107,409 people. JEA, the eighth-largest utility company in the US which serves 739,834 customers including residents of Jacksonville, has also enacted a moratorium. No plan to restore service to those previously shutoff has been included there.
  • Ohio is the state with the most local action: 13 localities are suspending shutoffs, and 5 are restoring service as well.
  • North Carolina has the second greatest number of local moratoria: 11 localities have suspended shutoffs, with 4 including service restoration.

Food & Water Watch mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people's health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.

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