PHILADELPHIA – The National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) joined more than 150 water associations, environmental groups, low-income advocates and public officials in appealing to Congressional appropriators to provide funding for the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP).
“We believe that federal, state, tribal, and local levels of government must work together to ensure that all households are able to pay their water bills without burdening financially vulnerable families,” according to the letter to the leadership of the U.S. Senate and House Appropriations Committee. “LIHWAP has brought these various levels of government together to achieve this goal, so we simply cannot afford to backtrack on the progress we have made. This is why so many of the nation’s water associations, environmental organizations, low-income and other public interest advocates, and unions jointly request your strong support for continued LIHWAP funding in the 2024 fiscal year, as an interim step on the path to authorizing and funding a permanent low-income water assistance program.”
In 2020-21, Congress provided $1.138 billion to establish LIHWAP to assist customers struggling to pay their bills as a result of COVID-19 and the economic turmoil that followed. As the first federal program to assist low-income families with their water and wastewater bills, LIHWAP has been a success, aiding more than 1.1 million households. Customers of NAWC member companies have benefited from more than $16.3 million of that funding. The funding expired at the end of the 2023 Fiscal Year.
“Vital funds dedicated to helping low-income water customers restore and maintain service have run out,” said NAWC President and CEO Robert F. Powelson. “We are imploring the budget decision-makers in Washington, D.C., to fund LIHWAP through the end of next year and hope the success of this program will lead to the creation of permanent help for low-income water customers. While many may take water service for granted, too many in our communities are not that fortunate. A permanent, federally funded low-income water assistance program is vital to ensuring that every American knows that when they turn on the faucet they will have water to drink, cook or bathe.”