PHILADELPHIA – The National Association of Water Companies has adopted a core set of principles designed to advance water equity across the nation. The principles were developed by an NAWC Affordability Working group after recognizing the economic fallout experienced by many during the pandemic.
NAWC members are committed to water equity, defined as a belief that everyone should have access to water that is safe, clean and reliable. In an effort to better communicate the core beliefs and priorities driving the regulated water industry’s ongoing efforts to advance water equity, NAWC convened a working group earlier this year to develop NAWC’s Five Principles for Water Equity. These principles are just one piece of a broader effort to better diagnose the challenges facing customers and water providers in order to shape effective solutions.
“The importance of access to clean, safe and reliable water has been underscored during this pandemic and remains a pillar of public health,” said NAWC President and CEO Robert F. Powelson. While our member companies’ services are affordable, there will always be some customers who struggle to pay. By formalizing our guiding principles for advancing water equity and developing these new resources on the topic, we’re making clear that we are committed to water quality and to taking action that improves access for all.
The principles, detailed in a policy statement on the website, are summarized as follows:
- Everyone should have access to water that is safe, reliable and affordable. NAWC members are committed to achieving water equity, which means that everyone should have access to safe, reliable and affordable drinking water. As a nation, we must advance water equity to ensure customers of all income levels have access to high-quality water.
- Focus on the customer. For NAWC’s water utilities, the customer is the top priority. NAWC members have a customer-first mentality and demonstrate a long-standing commitment to water equity by creating a variety of customer assistance and conservation programs to help customers who struggle to pay their bills.
- Never compromise on providing safe and reliable water. It is not enough to be low cost. Water must also be high quality and there when you need it.
- Invest in communities. The 10 largest NAWC member companies invest nearly $3.7 billion in their water systems annually. These investments keep rates stable and quality high. NAWC’s utilities strive to lift up communities where we live, work and serve by investing in those communities to create long-lasting positive change and promote public health.
- Develop partnerships and encourage water system consolidation. The drinking water sector is extremely fragmented, with over 50,000 water systems across the US. More than 90% of systems serve fewer than 10,000 people and half serve fewer than 500 people. Water system fragmentation increases costs and often decreases water quality, perpetuating environmental injustice and causing disproportionate harm to low-income communities.
NAWC Water Equity Priorities Resource Center: NAWC launched a resource center that contains current objectives, and efforts to date to advance water equity in the communities served by America’s water companies across the nation. Drawing on the work done by the Affordability Working Group, the new web page features the Five Principles and offers additional resources dedicated to highlighting the opportunities for solutions at the state and federal level that would advance the critical mission of achieving water equity.
For more information on NAWC’s water equity advocacy efforts and to view the new resources, please visit NAWC’s website.