NACWA Weighs In on Low-Income Water Assistance Program
(March 10, 2021) – NACWA sent a letter this week to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with recommendations on how to structure the new Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program. This program was established by Congress at the end of last year.
HHS has been tasked by Congress with administering the program and distributing the $638 million already appropriated for it. HHS will also use the same program to send out an additional $500 million in aid that is included in the COVID-19 legislation being passed by Congress today. Under the statutory language authorizing the program, HHS is responsible for creating a distribution formula to allocate the funds to states, Tribes and territories, and these grantees will then disperse the funds to utilities.
NACWA’s letter focuses on the need for HHS to coordinate with EPA and other stakeholders to ensure that the unique needs of the water sector are taken into account in how the program is structured. HHS has significant experience in assistance programs in the energy space but not in the water space, so it is critical that water experts be engaged in the process to ensure the program targets funds to where the greatest need exists. NACWA also makes a number of recommendations for HHS to include in its guidance to states on how to distribute the funds at the local level.
NACWA will continue its engagement efforts with HHS to help structure this new program in a manner that is most efficient for utilities and ensures the funds are directed where they are needed most. Members with questions can contact Nathan Gardner-Andrews, NACWA’s General Counsel & Chief Advocacy Officer.