On the heels of a global pandemic and rising inflation rates, customer assistance programs may never be more important than they are now.
All of us are feeling the pinch, but for households near the poverty line, rising water bills can be devastating. Fortunately, there are conversations about creating a large-scale customer assistance program happening in the water sector.
Five leading water associations – the American Water Works Association (AWWA), Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), and Water Environment Federation (WEF) recently unveiled formal policy recommendations to the federal government to create permanent low-income water assistance programs.
“Energy has (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) LIHEAP, food has (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) SNAP and housing has Section 8, but there is no such program to assist struggling, low-income water and wastewater customers,” said Tracy Mehan, the executive director of government affairs for AWWA. “It is time for the federal government to step up and implement a new low-income assistance program for the water and wastewater sectors.”
The associations conducted 15 months of research to support its claims that water affordability is a significant challenge to 20 million U.S. households and estimates the need for federal funding at about $8 billion.
We all play a role in keeping our water systems strong and healthy – that’s why we pay water bills. But it’s good to know that there are large-scale solutions being considered for those of us who simply cannot afford essential services.