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Financial Recovery From COVID-19 And Customer Assistance Programs For Small Water Systems In Washington State

September 28, 2020 @ 8:00 am - September 29, 2020 @ 5:00 pm

One of a series of trainings conducted by the Environmental Finance Center Network for the Smart Management for Small Water Systems project.


View the presentation slides


Webinar 1: September 28, 2020 | 10:00am-11:30am PT

Given the pandemic and its serious public health implications, Governor Inslee issued an order on April 17, 2020 to suspend water shut-offs. On July 31st, the order was extended to October 15th. The Governor has also required utilities to set-up or expand customer assistance options to help them pay for essential water service.


This webinar will provide an overview of the competing priorities of the water utility: serve all customers continuously and provide financial sustainability amid this crisis and beyond. We will then discuss alternative approaches to water shut offs and describe various ways that customers can be assisted, from the less direct approaches such as rate structures to the most direct approach of a formal Customer Assistance Program that pays all or a portion of customer bills.


Objectives: The learning objectives are shown below:

  • Understand the two main priorities of a water system – serve all customers all the time with safe, healthy water and obtain sufficient revenue to ensure the utility can provide service now and into the future.
  • Understand there are many alternatives to water shut-offs, including less direct and direct approaches.
  • Understand the types of formal Customer Assistance Programs that can be implemented in Washington.


10:00 – 10:10  Introduction to the Webinar Platform, the EFC Network, and the structure of the Webinar

10:10 – 10:30  Framing the Issue: The Main Priorities of a Water Utility and How They Can Conflict

10:30 – 10:50  Alternatives to Water Shut-Offs and Providing Assistance to Customers

10:50 – 11:15  Formal Customer Assistance Programs: What They Are and What’s Possible Within Washington

11:15 – 11:30   Q&A


Webinar 2: September 29, 2020 | 10:00am-11:30am PT

This webinar will be a follow up to the first webinar and allow a more in-depth discussion of issues that are on the minds of water utility personnel across Washington as they address the tremendous financial considerations of the pandemic.  While we expect that many utilities may have questions related to alternatives to water shut-offs and customer assistance options, utilities may ask more general questions about managerial or financial topics. Participants will be given the option of submitting questions in advance or can submit them during the webinar. We will answer as many questions as we can.   If there are too many questions to answer and there are enough to hold another webinar, that option will be considered.


Objectives: The learning objectives are shown below:

  • Address questions regarding customer assistance programs and alternatives to shut-offs.
  • Address questions related to the broader financial considerations of the pandemic for water utilities.
  • Address other managerial and financial questions.


10:00 – 10:10  Introduction to the Webinar Platform, the EFC Network, and the structure of the Webinar

10:10 – 11:30  Answer Questions From Participants



Training Credit Hours: Approved for 0.3 CEUs for attendees that participate in both sessions fully


Presenters: Heather Himmelberger, Director, Southwest Environmental Finance Center and Shadi Eskaf, Research Director, Environmental Finance Center at UNC


September 28, 2020 @ 8:00 am
September 29, 2020 @ 5:00 pm
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