Water and Wastewater Utilities Applaud Introduction of Language to Create Permanent Low-Income Water Customer Assistance Program
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David Zielonka | Manager, Media and Communications
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Antoinette Barber | Director, Communications and Utility Management Programs
Statement from NACWA and AMWA Emphasizes Critical Value of Program to Help Households Afford the Cost of Clean Water
(Washington, D.C.) – The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) and Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) applaud introduction of H.R. 3293, the Low-Income Water Customer Assistance Programs Act of 2021. The bipartisan legislation, led by Reps. Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and John Katko (R-NY) would create a permanent program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help financially struggling households maintain access to affordable drinking water and wastewater services, by providing grants through public utilities and states, in partnerships with small systems, for customer assistance.
This legislation recognizes the increasing strain that the costs of water services place on households and the challenges the nation’s public clean and drinking water systems face in addressing aging infrastructure, meeting growing water quality and quantity challenges, address regulatory requirements and more while trying to keep costs for these essential services manageable for water customers.
H.R. 3293 builds on legislation introduced in the 116th Congress by Rep. Katko and former Rep. Fudge (D-OH), and provisions included in S. 914, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act, which passed the Senate 89-2 on April 29th. Critically, Congress also provided funding for water customer assistance for the first time ever as part of COVID-19 relief, as the pandemic exasperated balances of unpaid water bills around the country.
The legislation advances key funding priorities advocated by NACWA and AMWA through the Affordable Water, Resilient Communities campaign.
Adam Krantz, Chief Executive Officer of NACWA, issued the following statement:
“Creating a permanent, reliable low-income water customer assistance program is critically important. NACWA strongly commends Reps. Blunt Rochester and Katko for working together to advance the Low-Income Water Customer Assistance Programs Act. This legislation acknowledges that a gap exists between the costs of providing essential public clean water services and investing in reliable, resilient infrastructure and the ability of households to pay for them. The costs of clean water have grown significantly and while programs exist for helping Americans afford other essentials–food security and home energy–no similar program has been in place for water. We look forward to further work with Congress to help advance this legislation.”
Diane VanDe Hei, Chief Executive Officer of AMWA, issued the following statement:
“Just like food and home energy, public health depends on access to drinking water and wastewater services. But as the cost of treating and delivering water has increased, it has left millions of low-income households vulnerable to not having enough money to pay their water bills. The Low-Income Water Customer Assistance Programs Act would supplement ongoing local-level water ratepayer aid programs with a new infusion of federal support, thus providing budget stability to water systems and reassurance to their most vulnerable customers. I commend Reps. Blunt Rochester and Katko for introducing this legislation, and AMWA looks forward to working toward its passage.”
For over 50 years, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) has been the nation’s recognized leader in legislative, regulatory, legal and communications advocacy on the full spectrum of clean water issues. NACWA represents public wastewater and stormwater agencies of all sizes nationwide. Our unique and growing network strengthens the advocacy voice for the public clean water sector and helps advance policies to provide affordable and sustainable clean water for all. Our vision is to advance sustainable and responsible policy initiatives that help to shape a strong and sustainable clean water future. For more information, visit us at www.nacwa.org.
For 40 years, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) has been the nation’s unified and definitive voice for the nation’s largest publicly owned drinking water systems on regulatory, legislative, and security issues. AMWA fulfills its mission through the sharing of management, scientific, and technical information to support sound utility operations, effective utility leadership, safe and secure water supplies, and effective public communication on drinking water quality. For more information, visit us at www.amwa.net.