Water Affordability Community of Practice: South Bend, IN

As part of our ongoing program to help cities ensure access to clean, affordable water, we are excited to announce a Water Affordability Community of Practice (COP) for city leaders. In partnership with the Water Center at Penn, the Water Affordability COP will spotlight best practices on challenges and solutions related to water affordability. This informal session will provide ample time for questions and discussion among peers. The audience for this event is exclusively local utility and city leaders that are striving to provide access to safe and affordable drinking and waste water.

Thursday, December 17

In partnership with:

Case Study from South Bend, IN

To address their combined sewer overflows, the City of South Bend got creative. They brought in high-tech solutions that ultimately would save them money, but they also recognized the need to support their low-income customers. In October of 2019, the City’s Common Council approved and adopted a Wastewater Low-Income Customer Assistance Program to assure that low-income, non-industrial customers could receive the utility’s lifeline sewer services.  Of course, shortly after this vital program was adopted, COVID-19 hit, exacerbating health and economic distress for everyone, but especially for low-income persons. South Bend leaders will share more about how they did this, with an emphasis on learning lessons for your utility, plus what they’re currently doing to address the additional financial challenges brought on by the pandemic.



Eric Horvath has been the City of South Bend’s public works director since 2012. In this role, Eric oversees five divisions — Engineering, Solid Waste, Streets & Sewers, Sustainability and Utilities — 300 employees and an annual budget over $100 million. A longtime civil servant, Eric started his career working as an environmental engineer for the City of Elkhart, Indiana, before becoming public works director in 2000. Eric went to work at American Structurepoint as its north regional services manager. There he specialized in water, sewer, transportation and environmental engineering design. Eric holds three degrees from the University of Notre Dame: Master of Science and a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering and Bachelor of Arts in psychology. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in Indiana.

Dr. Kara Boyles became the City of South Bend’s first female city engineer in January 2017, bringing extensive experience from her background in both the public and private sectors. As city engineer, she oversees the development, design, construction and inspection of all public works and capital improvement projects. Kara joined the City in 2014, serving as the first deputy director of public works for two years, before taking on the role of city engineer. Prior to the City, Kara served as a project manager for American Structurepoint and as an assistant city engineer for the City of Elkhart. She holds a doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Notre Dame. She earned a Master of Science and Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from Bradley University. Kara is a registered professional engineer in Indiana.