Water Affordability in Ohio Press Release 05/15/20
For Immediate Release
May 15, 2020
Kristy Meyer, Associate Director
Freshwater Future Organization, Others Applaud Introduction of Water Affordability Legislation in Ohio
Columbus, OH – On Thursday May 15, 2020, Representative Erica Crawley (D-Columbus) introduced state legislation that will ensure clean, safe, affordable water for everyone in Ohio.
Nationwide, more than a third of all households will not be able to pay their water bill by the end of 2022 according to a report out of Michigan State University. In Ohio, a report on water and sewer affordability found that in nearly 80 percent of Ohio communities, a month of basic water and sewer service requires more than eight hours of labor at minimum wage. The report also found that water costs are disproportionately felt in communities of color which have been redlined and disinvested in for decades along with rural communities that do not have enough people to pay for maintaining and upgrading the water infrastructure.
“Freshwater Future applauds Representative Crawley for her leadership to ensure everyone has access to clean, safe, and affordable water,” said Kristy Meyer, Associate Director at Freshwater Future. “As water rates and economic inequality rise, many Ohioans are losing access to water, a basic human need. Hard decisions are being made between rent, food, medical care, electricity and water – the necessities for life. Without clean, safe water flowing into homes, people cannot wash their hands and keep good hygiene, possibly leading to public health issues that also impact our economy, kids being bullied at school, and families being torn apart.”
In 2016, more than 15 million Americans, or 1 out of every 20 households, had their water shutoff due to inability to pay their water bill. Thousands across the state last year had to make the hard decision between putting food on the table and paying their water bill. COVID-19 has further illuminated how important it is to have access to running water in homes. When Ohioans do not have access to water in their homes, they cannot follow the CDC’s number one recommendation for preventing the spread of COVID-19 – washing hands.
The legislation specifically:
- Bans water shutoffs for nonpayment;
- Requires public water utilities to create a water affordability program based on available income of the household;
- Requires public water utilities to develop an emergency water assistance program for people who cannot afford to pay
their water bill when they fall on hard times; and
- Addresses past debt with the ability for forgiveness of debt.
About Freshwater Future: Freshwater Future builds a strong and effective environmental community working to protect and restore the waters of the Great Lakes by involving residents in civic decision-making. Learn more at freshwaterfuture.org