WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) joined four other national associations Monday to call on Congress and the Biden Administration to make funding for a low-income water and wastewater assistance program permanent.
“While many may take water service for granted, too many in our communities are not that fortunate,” said Robert F. Powelson, NAWC President and CEO. “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.”
In 2021, Congress provided $1.138 billion to establish the Low-Income Home Water Assistance Program (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 430,000 households. Customers of NAWC member companies have benefited from more than $16.3 million of that funding.
Assistance for low-income customers is set to expire as the LIHWAP funds are exhausted if Congress and the Biden Administration does not act. NAWC and its member companies support continued funding for a dedicated, stand-alone water and wastewater assistance program.
Because it is imperative that low-income water and wastewater customers do not lose access to this critical assistance, NAWC has issued a “call to action” urging those who support helping their neighbors in need to send letters to their member of Congress and advocate for permanent funding.
“The ‘take action’ tab on the NAWC website allows concerned residents from across the United States to stand up for low-income water and wastewater customers,” Powelson said.
Five leading water associations – NAWC, American Water Works Association (AWWA), Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) and Water Environment Federation (WEF) – today also unveiled formal policy recommendations to Congress and the White House on establishing a permanent federal low-income water assistance program.
Participating in today’s announcement is part of ongoing advocacy efforts by NAWC on behalf of making low-income programs for water and wastewater customers permanent. Powelson outlined the need in an opinion piece in The Hill where he called for Congress to include the money in the Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations plan while a more permanent plan was developed.
“The men and women who work for America’s professional water companies are personally invested in ensuring that the water is clean, safe and reliable when we turn on our taps in the communities where we serve and live,” Powelson said in The Hill. “They also have seen firsthand how LIHWAP has proven to be successful in getting assistance to their neighbors who need it the most. It is imperative that Congress and the Biden administration take action to continue to fund LIHWAP while working to establish a permanent low-income assistance program so that the most vulnerable households have a lifeline when they are struggling.”