NACWA Works to Build Support for Federal Low-Income Water Customer Assistance Legislation

(December 11, 2019) – NACWA helped spearhead a meeting of diverse stakeholders last week to discuss water affordability challenges. The group came together to discuss respective priorities around water affordability issues, potential areas for collaboration, and interest in advancing federal legislation.

This year, for the first time, Congress has introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to establish a federal program to assist low-income households in paying water and sewer bills. NACWA has been a national leader in promoting this concept, and at the direction of its members, is working to advance the bill through Congress as a key legislative priority in the 2020 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).

The legislation, H.R. 4832/S.2687 Low-Income Water Customer Assistance Programs Act of 2019, would establish a federal pilot program to help low-income households in paying their water and sewer bills.

Beyond this legislation for federal ratepayer assistance, the group discussed the need to consider water affordability challenges broadly. Assembled participants discussed changes to the Clean Water Act that can support affordability, like integrated planning; increased federal funding and potential tweaks to existing programs; and innovative approaches to advancing water quality. The meeting included association advocates from the public drinking water, clean water, municipal, and environmental NGOs sectors.

NACWA and the Water Environment Federation (WEF) have invested initial resources toward supporting a group dialogue, and this meeting was a productive opportunity to discuss shared concerns. Moving forward, NACWA hopes to continue this dialogue, broaden the tent of advocates for this federal bill and find opportunities to work with stakeholders on other related initiatives to ensure vital water services are affordable to all.

The group plans to meet again in the early part of next year to discuss the next steps and efforts. Please contact Kristina Surfus or Jason Isakovic, NACWA’s Legislative Directors, to discuss further.