NACWA Ramps Up Media Messaging on Service Shutoff Issues; Communications Committee to Host Discussion

(August 5, 2020) – The recent spate of media coverage surrounding utility shutoffs has continued unabated in recent weeks and months, particularly as more and more households face economic challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. NACWA has been active in the media presenting the public clean water utility message.

Many NACWA members have voluntarily implemented water shutoff moratoriums from as far back as March based on their understanding of how critical access to clean water is to sanitization efforts to prevent the spread of the virus. Despite this, the narrative in the media has been considerably less nuanced and has instead focused entirely on a cherrypicked handful of instances where utilities did indeed shutoff access to clean water services.

For instance, national publications like the New York Times and Washington Post have published stories related to utility shutoffs, and UK-based The Guardian is running a year-long investigation into water issues centered around affordability. NACWA continues to dialogue with these outlets and to influence and inform the reporters and editors who work on those stories.

For its part, NACWA has lobbied vigorously and consistently over the past few years for a federal water affordability program. However, this issue is now starting to find its way to state and local press outlets as well. For this reason, the NACWA Communications & Public Affairs Committee will be holding an informal Zoom call next Wednesday, August 12, from 3-4 p.m. EST to discuss the best approach to this issue. Attendees will share their experience around the issue, the interest from the press from their regions and suggested talking points. The end goal of this call will be to then distribute a one-sheet to the entire membership featuring these suggested talking points.

If you have experience relating issues of clean water affordability to the press, you are encouraged to join the call. If you would like to join the call but are not a member of the Communications & Public Affairs Committee, please reach out to David Zielonka.