EPA has released the results from its 2020 COVID-19 Water Sector Survey, which examined the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on drinking water and wastewater utilities throughout the United States. The survey featured responses from 1,956 utilities. Among the agency’s key findings were:
- Thirty-six percent of respondents were affected by supply chain disruptions. The disruptions related to supplies of personal protective equipment were “particularly notable” and were most prominent at the beginning of the pandemic.
- Twenty-seven percent of utilities reported personnel shortages attributed to factors such as illness, family responsibilities, and a lack of qualified substitute personnel. EPA noted that respondents emphasized that utility personnel are essential workers and the importance of ensuring personnel “receive needed support and resources.”
- Financial effects were variable, with 23 percent of utilities reporting a revenue loss and 24 percent of utilities using reserve funds during the pandemic even as the sector experienced a net revenue increase of 10 percent. Of those utilities experiencing revenue levels below their projections, 51 percent cited unpaid bills as a contributing factor.