A rising number of water utilities expect that the coronavirus pandemic will result in financial repercussions.
Two-thirds of water utilities say that changes in water demand and customer payments during the coronavirus pandemic will cause cash flow problems within the next two months or more.
That’s one of the takeaways from a survey of more than 500 water utilities conducted at the end of March by the American Water Works Association, a trade group. The majority of respondents are from the United States but several dozen represent Canadian utilities.
This is the second utility survey that AWWA has conducted during the pandemic. When utility leaders were questioned the week of March 10, only one in seven anticipated financial implications from the pandemic.
Two factors are driving the financial uncertainty. One is the number of customers who will have trouble paying their bills. Ninety-two percent of the utilities in the survey said that they have suspended water disconnections for late-paying customers, and 63 percent said they have paused late fees.
The second factor is changing demand. Utilities that rely on a few large industries for the bulk of their revenue could be vulnerable if those industries shut down because of the pandemic.
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