PHILADELPHIA – The National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) today commended The Aspen Institute – Nicholas Institute Roundtable Series for its report addressing water affordability.
The final report was the project of a Roundtable Series – a gathering of a small group that occurred over 3 meetings – to develop principles and recommendations around improving water affordability.
“We were pleased to have a seat at the table for the series as the stakeholders tackled one of the nation’s most pressing water challenges – ensuring that water services are affordable for households and communities,” said Robert F. Powelson, president and CEO of NAWC.
The Aspen-Nicholas Roundtable Series was designed to articulate a set of finding and recommended action for water affordability nationwide. Affordability has become such a critical topic in water management and policy, particularly as the impacts of the pandemic persisted, that Aspen-Nicolas convened this group to develop policy interventions, particularly for federal agencies, that would support ongoing state and local efforts.
The series compliments NAWC’s five principles of water equity that were released in September 2021 and outlined the commitment of America’s water companies to ensure customers know their water is safe, reliable and affordable. The principles outline how to achieve water equity through focusing on the customer, refusing to compromise on safety and reliability of service, investing in communities and developing relationships for water consolidation.
The final Aspen-Nicholas Roundtable Report makes several positive findings and recommendations, including that:
- Safe, reliable, and affordable water services provide broad societal benefits currently paid for by ratepayers;
- Affordable water service should be elevated as a national priority;
- Ensuring the provision of and access to safe and reliable water will require assistance for low-income households and under-resourced utilities;
- Federal and state governments need to take an active role coordinating funding and providing assistance;
- Safe and reliable water service must not be compromised for affordability, in that utilities must recover the full-cost of delivering water;
- State and federal government should reduce barriers to utilities for accessing available grants, loans and funding, including streamlining the application process for SRF funds;
- Incentivizing water sector regionalization and consolidation is one way to address affordability issues;
“The report does a good job reflecting the opinions of a very diverse group of experts, leaders and representatives of organizations and communities affected by and involved in water service affordability,” Powelson said. “NAWC and the participants worked to find common ground to ensure all perspectives were included in the report which goes a long way toward helping consumers. Now more than ever we must work collectively to make sure investments are made across the water grid to ensure safe, reliable service. Communities must have peace of mind that there drinking water provider is meeting and exceeding state and federal drinking water standards.”
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