Water Sector Groups Discuss Affordability with Water, Enforcement Office Leadership

(December 4, 2019) – NACWA, along with its partners the American Water Works Association and the Water Environment Federation, met December 3 with political leadership for both the enforcement and water offices at EPA to discuss the groups’ report, Developing a New Framework for Household Affordability and Financial Capability Assessment in the Water Sector, which outlines a new approach to evaluating household affordability and utility financial capability across all water programs.

Susan Bodine, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA), and Lee Forsgren, Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water, together with staff from both offices, participated in the meeting.

NACWA, AWWA and WEF stressed the importance of this issue for their respective members and reminded EPA that it has now been two years since the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) issued its recommendations that EPA’s affordability methodology needed to be updated.

Since delivering their report to EPA in April 2019, the water sector groups have been meeting with EPA staff to brief them and discuss how the methodology outlined in the report could be adopted by EPA as a replacement for the Agency’s current, median household income-based approach, but the December 3 meeting was the first joint discussion with the political leaders from both offices with a stake in how this issue is resolved.

Over the last few months, EPA has indicated that it was working on a proposal, informed by the water sector report, that would outline the Agency’s current thinking on the subject. During the December 3 meeting, EPA confirmed that it is continuing to work on this issue and is planning to release a Federal Register notice, likely in January 2020, to seek public comment.

NACWA, AWWA and WEF will be engaging with EPA over the coming weeks and the Association will keep members up to date on the latest developments.  Please contact Chris Hornback, NACWA’s Deputy CEO, with any questions or for more information.