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Legislation asks public water system owners and operators to keep service on during pandemic, even if customers can’t pay.

The U.S. House of Representatives was expected to vote May 15 on a $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus packaged dubbed the HEROES Act.

The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act may provide assistance to key pump industries such as water, wastewater and power generation. According to The Hill, $1.5 billion is included “for states and Native tribes to help low-income households pay for drinking water services and gives another $1.5 billion to help low-income households pay for energy.”

The funding for drinking water assistance will actually go to public water system owners and operators, The Hill explains. They will then “be expected to reduce rates for low-income households and the energy assistance would go through the existing Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.”

The bill also includes language that encourages any energy or water providers that receive federal add to ensure power and water are not shut off because customers cannot pay during this national emergency.

According to The Hill, some utilities have said they won’t shut off electricity amid the coronavirus pandemic. Birmingham Water Works in Birmingham, Alabama, said it would not shut off water for its customers during this time, according to

Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, Pacific Power, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District all made similar announcements in March, according to In Texas, the Public Utility Commission approved an order banning disconnections, The Texas Tribune reported.

Good News for PPP Loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced this week that any borrowers who secured loans under the Paycheck Protection Program for $2 million or under will not need to worry about repaying the loan. 

According to Forbes, “This should put the vast majority of borrowers at ease that if they did not intentionally answer the question of necessity on their PPP loan application inaccurately, then they are likely safe from possible SBA action. This new guidance appears to provide much needed relief to small businesses that were considering whether or not to return their Paycheck Protection Program loan prior to the May 14th deadline."