Water and Wastewater Affordability: Customer Assistance Programs for Hard to Reach Customers and Navigating Legal Pathways to Rate-Funded Customer Assistance Programs

The affordability of water-related services is becoming an increasing concern in many communities as water, wastewater, and stormwater rates continue to escalate at rates significantly higher than inflation. This webcast highlighted results from two WRF projects that explored unique challenges related to affordability:
Most customer assistance programs (CAPs) do not meet the needs of households in multi-family buildings, single-family renters, and others who do not receive a bill directly from their water or wastewater service provider.  Customer Assistance Programs for Multi-Family Residential and Other Hard to Reach Customers (project #4557) gives water and wastewater utility professionals insights into the magnitude of the financial assistance needs of households that do not receive a water or wastewater bill, and describes assistance strategies and programs that can be used to decrease the financial impact of raising rates on these “hard-to-reach” customers.

In their efforts to design and implement CAPs, utilities must navigate a complex, confusing, and often ambiguous legal framework that varies considerably from state to state. Navigating Legal Pathways to Rate-Funded Customer Assistance Programs: A Guide for Water and Wastewater Utilities (project #4671) produced a resource guide to help steer utilities through this confusing regulatory landscape. The guide presents detailed summaries of regulatory policy on the design and funding of CAPs in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Project #4671 was a collaborative effort co-sponsored by the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, American Water Works Association, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, National Association of Water Companies, The Water Research Foundation, Water Environment & Reuse Foundation, and Water Environment Federation.
In addition to the above content, presenters from New York City and Atlanta will discuss how they are dealing with affordability challenges in their communities.