Small U.S. water and wastewater utilities say that they expect to lose $998 million in revenue through mid-July due to changes in water use and billing practices brought on by the new coronavirus pandemic.
The findings are from a National Rural Water Association survey of 4,636 water and wastewater utilities. NRWA represents water systems that serve fewer than 10,000 people.
Many utilities have suspended water shutoffs during the national emergency for customers who do not pay their bills. Some governors have ordered all utilities in their states to do the same in order to protect public health. Revenue is also being bruised by declining water sales as manufacturing plants, schools, and businesses close.
Not all utilities are affected in the same way. The NRWA survey found that 31 percent of respondents have seen a decrease in water use, while for 57 percent water use stayed the same or increased, due to more at-home consumption.
The water utility industry is lobbying Congress to include aid to utilities and residential customers in future emergency relief packages.