AMWA, other sector orgs support continued LIHWAP funding

The Association of Metropolitan of Water Agencies (AMWA) recently joined more than 150 national, state and local organizations in writing to congressional leaders to express strong support for continued funding for the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) at Department of Health and Human Services in FY24. AMWA said without action from Congress, the program will cease operations once the existing funding allocated to states runs out. 

The letter was sent to Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations committees, as lawmakers continue to develop plans to fund the government for the remainder of the 2024 fiscal year. 

“We believe that federal, state, tribal, and local levels of government must work together to ensure that all households are able to pay their water bills without burdening financially vulnerable families,” AMWA and the other organizations wrote. “LIHWAP has brought these various levels of government together to achieve this goal, so we simply cannot afford to backtrack on the progress we have made.”

Other water sector organizations that joined on the letter included the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) and the Water Environment Federation (WEF).

Congress created LIHWAP in 2020 as part of COVID-19 relief legislation to help low-income households reduce arrearages and keep up with future water bills. Lawmakers eventually provided the program with more than $1.1 billion, and HHS has distributed funds to states, which in turn have made them available to water systems to offset bills of qualifying households. HHS has reported that more than one million households have been aided by the program through 2023. However, to continue operations Congress must provide additional funds for the program by the start of the 2024 fiscal year. 

“Drinking water service is an essential lifeline, regardless of a person’s income,” said AMWA CEO Tom Dobbins. “Just as the federal government has programs to help low-income households with nutrition assistance and home heating and cooling needs, help to maintain water and wastewater services should also be part of the federal safety net.

“The great diversity of groups and organizations signing today’s letter demonstrates the great breadth of support for LIHWAP,” Dobbins continued. “I urge lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to listen to their constituents and act to ensure the uninterrupted operation of LIHWAP without delay.” 

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