Water Sector Briefs EPA, Congress on New Affordability Methodology

(August 28, 2019) – During meetings on Capitol Hill and at EPA August 22, the lead authors of the joint NACWA, American Water Works Association (AWWA) and Water Environment Federation (WEF) report, Developing a New Framework for Household Affordability and Financial Capability Assessment in the Water Sector, provided additional background on a proposed new approach to evaluate household affordability and utility financial capability to replace EPA’s current method that relies on median household income. 

The report was released in late April, and last week’s meetings provided an opportunity for NACWA, AWWA and WEF to formally brief Congress and EPA – including presentations from the subject matter experts that helped write the report. 

On Capitol Hill, the water sector coalition met with staff from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee to discuss the need for updated methodology and findings of the report. These Committees have long been engaged in affordability and financial capability guidance discussions and are tracking EPA’s efforts. Staff were interested to hear of the sector’s work, recommendations, and discuss potential paths forward.

Following the meetings on Capitol Hill, NACWA, AWWA and WEF staff, together with the report’s authors, sat down with top EPA Office of Water and Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance staff and their affordability experts to discuss the report in more detail following an initial discussion in the spring.

The report’s authors provided feedback on a range of questions that came up during EPA’s more detailed review of the proposed new methodology and provided more detail on the considerations that were included in developing the new approach. More conversations are planned with EPA’s experts, but NACWA was encouraged by the direction of the discussion.

NACWA will continue to engage with EPA and Congress on affordability and to promote the new methodology.  Members with any questions can contact Chris Hornback, NACWA’s Deputy CEO.