Water access is a human right, and city leaders must regard it as a priority. Aging water infrastructure systems, climate change, and the general rising cost of urban living 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 to update infrastructure and price out ratepayers, or keep rates static at the expense of aging and failing infrastructure. At the fulcrum of this choice sits those most vulnerable to increases in rates: 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 better serve their communities while investing in necessary water infrastructure.
We offer technical assistance to city leaders and their water utilities across the country. Examples of our work include:
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.
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.
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.
Please contact Marybeth McGinnis for more information (firstname.lastname@example.org, 608-265-3144).