Affordability Assessment Tool for Federal Water Mandates
This Affordability Assessment Tool is a collaborative effort of the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), the American Water Works Association (AWWA), and the Water Environment Federation (WEF). It intends to help communities consider the many factors impacting affordability and fully understand the implications of the federal water mandates they face. The tool includes worksheets to help communities accurately discern the burden of higher water bills on households at different income levels and with various demographic characteristics.

Assessing the Affordability of Federal Water Mandates: An Issue Brief
This issue brief summarizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) methods for analyzing the affordability of federal mandates stemming from the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. The paper describes the Agency’s current policies, offers a critique, and identifies a number of alternatives that might be more suitable for analyzing the affordability of water and wastewater mandates on American communities. This paper is the result of a collaborative effort by the USCM, AWWA, and WEF. Its purpose is to raise issues and provoke discussion. It does not represent the official policy of these organizations or their members.

Assessing Water Affordability: A Pilot Study in Two Regions of California
Water affordability is a major concern to public welfare, safety, and security. When households are unable to make their water payments, consequences can include public health crises, social unrest, and lost revenue for water providers that can threaten their fiscal stability. California passed the first state law in the United States to explicitly recognize humans' right to water. AB 685 notes that “every human being has the right to safe, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes.” Focused more explicitly on water affordability, the second bill passed, AB 2334, requires the Department of Water Resources to include an analysis of water affordability and mechanisms to address lack of drinking water (and wastewater services) affordability in California’s Water Plan. While these recent legal successes bring water affordability into the limelight, much of the important work lies ahead. This pilot study conducted by the Pacific Institute is intended to explore how to measure water affordability, the implications of using different measures, and how to understand the implications of results in both urban and rural regions.

Assessing Water System Revenue Risk: Considerations for Market Analysts
Water utilities are on the brink of extraordinary investments to replace aging infrastructure—the EPA estimates that by 2030, capital expenditures of more than $300 billion will be needed to safeguard drinking water. Yet this investment comes at a time when Americans’ water use habits are changing, resulting in considerable uncertainty for water systems planning capital programs to replace or expand their assets.

Beyond Water Pricing: An Overview of Water Financing Options in California
As various communities deal with the direct and indirect impacts of climate change and extreme weather patterns, decaying water and wastewater systems, ecosystem challenges, emerging contaminants and stricter water quality requirements, and population and economic growth, there is a growing urgency to reinvest in water and wastewater management systems in order to continue to provide high-quality and reliable water services. This white paper by the Pacific Institute, the last in a series of four covering different aspects of water pricing in California, reviews some of the local, regional, and statewide water financing options in California.

Bond Financing Distributed Water Systems: How to Make Better Use of Our Most Liquid Market for Financing Water Infrastructure
Across the country, communities are experiencing more extreme hydrology. In some places, this takes the form of deepening drought that necessitates stronger commitments to conservation. In others, it takes the form of more frequent flooding that overwhelms water infrastructure, sending raw sewage into urban rivers or even into city streets. As a growing number of water planners across the country are recognizing, these challenges cannot be solved solely by building new reservoirs, pipelines and treatment plants. Given current financial and ecological constraints, utilities will have to embrace a new form of infrastructure if they intend to provide reliable, reasonably priced water services.

Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge
Published by AWWA, this document provides a comprehensive analysis of drinking water infrastructure needs in the United States.

Climate Water Bonds Standard
This first-of-its-kind report found that 93% of fee structures in the Southeastern states and 62% of fee structures in the Western states used uniform water connection charges for single-family homes, and did not account for the design of a home’s water footprint. As a result, owners of new homes typically pay the same amount to be connected to local water systems despite wide-ranging differences in their water use. This report by Western Resource Advocates, Ceres, and the University of North Carolina's Environmental Finance Center evaluates water connection charges used by 800 public water utilities in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, and Utah.

Compendium of Drinking Water and Wastewater Customer Assistance Programs
This EPA webpage describes the benefits, implementation, and examples of customer assistance programs (CAPs) throughout the country.

Drinking Water Infrastructure: Who Pays and How (And For What)?
For many decades, funding to maintain water systems has fallen short of the cost of providing safe drinking water, sewage treatment and flood control. This guide by American Rivers is intended to acquaint advocates with the financing practices and imperatives that define drinking water management today. It can be used to prepare for engagement with drinking water utilities, the city councils that set water rates, and the State Revolving Fund administrators that help to finance water infrastructure.

Financing Sustainable Water
The Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) created this initiative to help utilities develop and implement rate structures that balance revenue management, resource efficiency, and fiscal sustainability. AWE serves as a North American advocate for water-efficient products and programs, and provides information and assistance on water conservation efforts.

The Impacts of Altering Tax-Exempt Municipal Bond Financing on Public Drinking Water & Wastewater Systems
No matter how you measure it, replacing and rehabilitating water infrastructure will cost cities, towns, and their residents hundreds of billions of dollars over the coming decades. This report, developed by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, explains the vital role of tax-exempt municipal bonds in funding water and wastewater infrastructure, examines how this exemption has benefitted states across the country, reviews the four major scenarios that are being discussed on Capitol Hill, and points out some real-world examples to demonstrate how these reforms would have increased costs for several communities that recently issued municipal bonds.

Measuring & Mitigating Water Revenue Variability: Understanding How Pricing Can Advance Conservation Without Undermining Utilities’ Revenue Goals
As water utilities across North America undertake capital campaigns to finance the replacement and expansion of their systems, the need for confident revenue projections grows. Yet many water utilities are subject to factors that can affect revenue variability, including volatile weather patterns and a growing imperative to conserve scarce water resources. As a result, it is more important than ever to anticipate how changing water use patterns and rates drive revenue risk. This report examines real financial and water use data from three North American water utilities to demonstrate how rate structures can mitigate or intensify revenue variability. It also introduces alternative financial and pricing strategies that can assist water utilities in stabilizing revenue without compromising the commitment to water conservation.

An Overview of the “New Normal” and Water Rate Basics
Water system financing needs a new approach to ensure fiscal solvency. This white paper, produced by the Pacific Institute, is the first in a series that will address some of the key challenges that water service providers face in setting water rates and will offer recommendations and lessons from other sectors. This paper provides an overview of the basics of water rate design, trends in water rates, and advantages and disadvantages of different rate structures.

2016 State of the Water Industry Report
Since 2004, AWWA has conducted an annual State of the Water Industry survey to identify and track significant challenges facing the water industry and to provide data and analyses to support water professionals as they develop strategies to address these issues.

The Value of Water Campaign
The Value of Water Campaign is supported by top leaders from across the water industry committed to raising awareness about the importance of water and the often invisible water challenges threatening our country.


Last updated June 2017