Topic: Coronavirus

Overview

Coronavirus

The coronavirus sparked a lot of water-related questions and issues when the pandemic moved into California in 2020. Below are the latest articles on the topic as they appeared in our Aquafornia news aggregate. 

Aquafornia news Sen. Bill Dodd

News Release: Sen. Dodd’s Water Access & Equity Bill Clears Committee

Legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would help hundreds of thousands of Californians who have fallen behind on their water bills and are at risk of being disconnected from water service cleared a key committee on Wednesday. … Sen. Dodd’s legislation comes as the State Water Resources Control Board heard results of a survey that found water debt in California climbed to about $1 billion. The survey estimated 12% of California households are behind on their water bills with an average debt of $500 per household. 

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Online public meetings still OK but some water agencies are pulling the plug

While most public water agencies are still mulling whether to keep an online option for their meetings, some have already clicked off Zoom and marched straight back to early 2020. The Westlands Water District, which covers a huge swath of western Fresno County, will no longer have a public online option for the public to access its meetings starting June 15.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Update on Water Education Foundation 2021 programming schedule

The Water Education Foundation has hosted successful virtual tours and events during the COVID-19 pandemic and is now closely monitoring developments – as capacity and distancing restrictions are lifted from public health guidelines this summer – to inform the format choices for our fall programs.

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

Blog: Low-income water assistance program formally launched

The White House last week announced the official launch of the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) housed at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). This program is the first of its kind designed to provide funding to help low-income households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic pay their water and wastewater bills. According to the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the available federal funds, which total $1.138 billion, were secured as part of the federal COVID-19 relief spending in December 2020 and March 2021.

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Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Opinion: Facing multiple droughts, California agriculture needs consumers to step up

Governor Newsom’s recent emergency declaration confirms what California’s agriculture industry has known for months. Drought has returned to California, in what has become a recurring theme of growing food in our state. Farmers and ranchers accept the risks that come with their way of life and have fought hard to be productive in one of the most heavily regulated industries in the state. Agriculture continues to adapt to meet evolving challenges and now more than ever consumers need to buy California grown produce.
-Written by Ian LeMay, president of the California Fresh Fruit Association.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Money for water debt may be available but can California get it to those in need?

As pandemic restrictions begin to ease in California, a race is on to get money in place to help with massive and growing household water debt before the statewide moratorium on shutoffs for non-payment is lifted. Some observers are looking at June 15, when Gov. Newsom said he’ll lift the state’s mask mandate, as a potential date for release from other COVID-19 mandates, including the water shutoff moratorium. That’s also the deadline for lawmakers to pass the state budget, in which Newsom recently injected $1 billion to help pay overdue water bills.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Friday Top of the Scroll: Report: Drought to hit rural Latino communities hardest

Rural, low-income Latino communities across California were hardest hit by the last drought and could see drinking water shortages again this year as extreme drought spreads across the state, according to a report released Thursday by non-partisan advisors to California’s lawmakers. The report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office warns state officials to prepare by ramping up monitoring of wells in vulnerable communities and lining up emergency drinking water supplies to send there. 

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California residents owe $1 billion in water debt. Shutoffs coming?

In a time of record-breaking unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Californians owe an estimated $1 billion in unpaid water utility bills. With reduced revenue, hundreds of water utilities are at high risk of financial emergency. The State Water Board estimates at least 1.6 million households have an average of roughly $500 in water debt — a crisis that could lead to a wave of families facing water shutoffs, liens on their homes or other collection methods. … Data show Black and Latino households are disproportionately affected. 

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Report: California’s future – water and a changing climate

The pandemic and its economic fallout are affecting many aspects of water management, while climate change has major implications. And a much-needed national conversation about racism has illuminated water equity issues—such as how we address climate change, safe drinking water, and water scarcity.

Aquafornia news NBC Bay Area

Water bill debt soars during pandemic, prompting fears of future shutoffs

Tens of thousands of Bay Area residents financially impacted during the COVID-19 crisis now face tens of millions of dollars in unpaid water bills, prompting both long-term financial and public health concerns. That’s the conclusion of a new a report released Thursday by the non-profit public policy organization SPUR, and that looming potential crisis has experts concerned about vulnerable customers. 

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Vast coalition calls on Biden to impose national moratorium on water shutoffs

A broad coalition of organizations is urging Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to mandate a national moratorium on water and other utility shutoffs on day one in the White House, in order to curtail the spread of Covid-19 and ease the financial burden on struggling Americans. … Only eight states – California, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin – and the District of Columbia currently have moratoriums in place, but even these don’t include debt forgiveness programs.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Four water stories to watch in 2021

Now that the calendar has flipped to January 2021, it’s time to say goodbye to the mess of the past year, yes? … The pandemic’s economic dislocation continues to reverberate among those who lost work. Severe weather boosted by a warming climate is leaving its mark in the watersheds of the Southwest [including the Colorado River]. And President-elect Biden will take office looking to undo much of his predecessor’s legacy of environmental deregulation while also writing his own narrative on issues of climate, infrastructure, and social justice….Litigation over toxic PFAS compounds found in rivers, lakes, and groundwater is already active. Lawsuits are likely to continue at a brisk pace…

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Skyrocketing COVID levels in sewage track rapid spread of virus

Sewage data analyzed in Silicon Valley wastewater treatment plants confirms that the latest wave of coronavirus infections is sharply worse than the ones in the spring and summer. Officials in Santa Clara County have been routinely testing solid waste samples in sewage to detect levels of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 as part of a project funded by Stanford University.

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Aquafornia news Estuary News

Blog: COVID complicates encampment cleanups

In 2016 the City of San Jose became the first Bay Area municipality to get credit for homeless encampment cleanups under its stormwater permit. So far, the city has exceeded the permit’s annual requirements, most recently removing 446 tons of rubbish—more than double its goal—from encampments along waterways. But Covid-19 has complicated this effort.

Aquafornia news KPBS

San Diego utilities department monitors wastewater for SARS-CoV-2

San Diego is participating in a statewide program to monitor its untreated wastewater for the virus that causes COVID-19. City staff have been monitoring for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2, in untreated wastewater at the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant this month. Following the test run, staff will monitor for SARS-CoV-2 three times a week from January through June 2021.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: After COVID-19 ends, will Californians go thirsty?

In the midst of drought yet again, and two decades into the 21st century, California continues to operate with a water infrastructure engineered and constructed for 20th century climate conditions and populations. That’s true not only of the state’s physical network of dams and aqueducts, but of its legal and financial infrastructure as well — the pricing rules that allocate the state’s precious liquid resources among its 40 million thirsty people. The coronavirus emergency has highlighted some of the most serious stresses in the system.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Addressing water affordability in urban California

In the midst of the pandemic and recession, the cost of delivering safe drinking water continues to rise across California, creating a crisis of affordability for water users and a revenue problem for water suppliers. PPIC talked to Robert Shaver—board chair for the California Urban Water Agencies (CUWA) and general manager of the Alameda County Water District—about how the state’s largest public water agencies are thinking about this issue.

Aquafornia news Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies

Blog: Association reiterates need for water-focused COVID aid

The Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies joined five other water and wastewater sector organizations last week in requesting the inclusion of targeted water sector programs in any COVID-19 relief package that is formulated before the end of the year.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: UC San Diego detects coronavirus in wastewater samples from five areas of campus

UC San Diego says it detected traces of the novel coronavirus in five areas of campus over the weekend after it greatly expanded its search for the pathogen in wastewater samples drawn from dozens of buildings.

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Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

California water board collects data on household water debt, utility finances

California regulators sent a survey on Monday to 150 of the state’s largest water providers in an attempt to shed light on the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The State Water Resources Control Board wants to know how economic slowdowns related to the virus have affected utility finances and, at a household level, how many residents have overdue water bills.