Ensuring Access to Clean, Affordable Water

Access to safe and affordable drinking and waste water is a human right, and city leaders must regard it as a priority. However, aging water infrastructure systems, climate change, and regional economic decline mean that access to clean and affordable water is becoming a greater challenge. Cities and water utilities are increasingly faced with a major financial dilemma: increase rates and price out ratepayers, or keep rates the same at the expense of aging infrastructure. At the fulcrum of this choice sits those most vulnerable: low-to-moderate income households, disproportionately made up of women and/or people of color. We are dedicated to helping mayors, utility leaders, and city staff create affordable, efficient, resilient, and equitable water systems.

Water Affordability Academy

In partnership with The Water Center at Penn,  the inaugural Academy launched Fall 2020. This workshop series connects utility leaders with some of the country’s most respected utility innovators to help them identify, assess, and establish a path forward on affordability in their community. Currently virtual, the Academy also provides ongoing support after the event to utilities in implementing their affordability plans. We’re excited to announce a second Academy taking place this spring.


Community of Practice

We are excited to announce a Water Affordability Community of Practice (COP) for city and public utility 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. These informal sessions 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. Click the links below to stay in the loop.

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Upcoming events


  • Water Affordability in Atlanta & DC

    In partnership with the Water Center at Penn, our Water Affordability Community of Practice (COP) spotlights best practices on challenges and solutions related to water affordability, providing ample time for questions and informal discussion among peers. …

  • Person in work jumpsuit fixing large water pipe

    Embracing Digital To Maximize Efficiency: Seven Recommendations for Success

    Today’s guest blog post is from George Hawkins, former General Manager of DC Water and President of Moonshot Missions. Following this handful of simple strategies will enable mayors and their personnel to embrace digital technologies that benefit their constituents and save their money too.

  • Screen capture of presentation from South Bend's Eric Horvath, with a photo of Eric in the top right corner, an image of South Bend in the middle, and information about South Bend demographics on the left side

    Water Affordability Amidst a Stark Racial Wealth Divide

    South Bend, IN utility leaders shared how they’re addressing equity through water customer assistance, with learning lessons for other cities of all sizes. Below are the main takeaways that can help your city make and keep water affordable.

Technical Assistance

In addition to ongoing support for Academy participants, we also work with city leaders across the country in providing them with the connections, tools and resources they need. Examples include:

Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh is at a critical juncture for its water system. We worked with the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA), Mayor Peduto’s office, Pittsburgh United and the Heinz Foundation to help PWSA incorporate integrated water management principles as it deals with very serious capital, financial, organizational and quality issues.

Duquesne, PA

Our goal was to directly support the mayor in both managing staff and regional partners to improve infrastructure and update their water systems. We continue to work with them and provide support and expertise.

South Bend, IN

We worked with the City to develop a water affordability program for stormwater, sewer and drinking water fees, as well as the development of a customer assistance program. Learn more here.

Toledo, OH

We helped the utility in the search process for a sustainability coordinator, and we provided them with a policy toolkit on how they can ensure that green infrastructure development does not lead to displacement for its most vulnerable residents. Recommendations include best practices on equitable hiring, incentivizing developers to hire locally, and more.

Technical Assistance for Members

Member cities can request up to three short policy memos per year on the topics that you need the most help with. Additional, in-depth technical assistance may be available depending on grant availability. Learn more.

In Partnership with

The Water Center at the University of Pennsylvania


Please contact Emily Miota for more information (ejmiota@mayorsinnovation.org, 262-853-6863).