The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) has announced their support of the Low Income Water Customer Assistance Programs Act. According to a NACWA press release, the act was unveiled by Sen. Ben Cardin on Oct. 31.
The legislation represents a step forward in helping address the affordability challenges facing public drinking water and clean water utilities across the U.S, according to the press release. The organization thanks Sen. Cardin and his co-sponsor, Sen. Roger Wicker, on their leadership on this issue.
“This bipartisan legislation demonstrates that water affordability, and the federal government’s role in helping address it, is not a Democrat vs. Republican issue or an urban vs. rural community issue,” said Adam Krantz, NACWA’s Chief Executive Officer. “Instead, it demonstrates that water affordability challenges impact all Americans in all parts of the country, and these challenges require a unified, national approach that acknowledges the need for local communities to raise rates to cover the cost of service, while also providing assistance to those ratepayers most impacted by increased rates. If the federal government views food, heating, and cooling as basic needs that warrant federal assistance for those who can’t afford them, then water should certainly qualify for assistance as well. NACWA has been a national leader in promoting this concept, and is grateful to Sen. Cardin and Sen. Wicker for their bipartisan leadership on this legislation.”
The average residential cost for clean water services has exceeded the Consumer Price Index over the past decade, according to the NACWA’s Cost of Clean Water Index. Costs are expected to continue to rise in the future.
According to the press release, nonpartisan research shows more than 95% of investment in water and sewer infrastructure is funded locally. Local governments and their ratepayers continue to carry the vast majority of increased rates.
The NACWA believes it is only appropriate for the federal government to provide some financial assistance to low-income ratepayers who will be impacted, according to the press release.