New EPIC Report Provides Recommendations for Improving Water Bill Assistance Programs

The Environmental Policy Innovation Center (EPIC) has released a new report that finds large water utility customer assistance programs (CAPs) are not meeting the needs of low-income communities. The report was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Spring Point Partners and is entitled, “H2Affordability: How Water Bill Assistance Programs Miss the Mark.” The report includes  four key findings in the report are based on the evaluation of 20 large water system CAPs from across the US and include nine specific policy recommendations for improvement, along with three case studies, and information about a few programs that serve as good examples.

For states, the report policy recommendation is that they, “must provide authorization that allows water utilities to use rate revenues for customer assistance and provides a guaranteed source to run the program.” The report includes two maps highlighting the regulatory and policy differences between states on page 9 and 10 (from 2017) and concludes that these differences allow privately-owned (but not publicly-owned) utilities to use rate revenues to fund CAPs, and therefore creates a “lack of reliable funding (that) sharply reduces the scope and potency of these programs.”

For more information, view the press release and download the report and view the case studies here.