AMWA supports new water affordability legislation

The Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) has extended its support for new legislation aimed at improving the affordability of water and wastewater service for low-income customers.

Last week, AMWA sent a letter of support to a pair of senators who are preparing to introduce legislation that would create two new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pilot programs intended to help low-income households pay their bills.

Authored by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), the Low-Income Water Customer Assistance Programs Act would create two pilot programs through which drinking water and wastewater utilities could respectively apply for funding assistance that would support the establishment or continuation of local affordability programs that aid low-income customers. EPA would be allowed to offer a defined number of pilot grants to drinking water and wastewater utilities, and over the course of the program the agency would examine and report on the results of the pilots.  Eventually, the pilots could serve as a model for a more comprehensive federal water and wastewater affordability program.

AMWA’s letter cited the high cost of drinking water infrastructure needs and noted that increasing rates necessary to cover these expenses will pose challenges for low-income households. AMWA said it is committed to working work with Sens. Cardin and Wicker to advance the bill, though the association said no immediate action is expected on Capitol Hill.

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