Access to safe and affordable drinking and waste water is a human right, and city leaders must regard it as a priority.
Yet cities and 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.
In partnership with The Water Center at Penn, we are dedicated to helping mayors, utility leaders, and city staff create affordable, efficient, resilient, and equitable water systems.
Water Affordability Academy
The Water Affordability Academy 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.
Community of Practice
The Water Affordability Community of Practice spotlights 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. Join our mailing list further below to stay in the loop.
News & Updates
On March 29, the Mayors Innovation Project hosted a discussion about the critical need for sustained federal funding for water assistance programs, specifically the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), including a spotlight on LIHWAP successes in Reading, PA.April 18, 2023
Even utilities with robust customer assistance programs struggle with one main problem: how do they ensure those who need the help are signing up? This challenge spurred Greg Wukash and the SAWS team to create the Uplift Customer Assistance Program, designed to embrace a “neighbor-centric” approach by offering a more holistic method of assistance.March 22, 2023
In partnership with the Water Center at Penn, WaterNow Alliance, and US Water Alliance, our Water Affordability Community of Practice (CoP) spotlights best practices on challenges and solutions related to water affordability, providing ample time for …January 26, 2023
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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 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.