customer base, and community values.
Affordability can be a contentious issue. Some utilities
are choosing to develop
and implement affordability
programs while others are
staying out of the “social service” business. In some situations, legal statutes may
prevent a utility from offering an affordability program
while in others there can be
specific mandates to offer
assistance. Regardless of the stance your
utility is taking on the issue, the resources
described in this article represent some
of the best industry research on this issue
and can serve as a great resource as you
navigate this important topic.
AWWA (AMERICAN WATER Works
Association). 2012. M1 Principles of
Water Rates, Fees and Charges. 6th ed.
Denver, Colo.: American Water Works
CENSUS (UNITED STATES Census Bureau).
2014. 2014 ACS 1-year Public Use
Microdata Samples (PUMS). http://
CROMWELL, J. E., III, R. D. Colton, S. J. Rubin,
C. N. Herrick, J. Mobley, K. Reinhardt,
and R. Wilson. 2010. Best Practices in
Customer Payment Assistance Programs.
Project #4004. Denver, Colo.: Water
Research Foundation. 2010.
DAVIS, J. P., and M. P. Teodoro. 2015.
“Financial Capability and Affordability.”
In Water and Wastewater Finance and
Pricing: The Changing Landscape, edited
by G. A. Raftelis, 443–465. 4th ed. Boca
Raton, Fla.: CRC Press.
DENAVAS-WALT, C. AND B.D. Proctor.
2015. Income and Poverty in the United
States: 2014, Current Population Reports.
60–252. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census
to Low Income Customers
of Water and Wastewater
EPA (U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL
2016. Drinking Water
and Wastewater Utility Customer
Assistance Programs. https://www.epa.
HUGHES, J. M. Tiger, S. Eskaf, S. I. Berahzer,
S. Royster, C. Boyle, D. Batten, P. Brandt,
and C. Noyes. 2014. Defining a Resilient
Business Model for Water Utilities. Project
#4366. Denver, Colo.: Water Research
RAUCHER, R. S., and J. Clements.
Forthcoming. Customer Assistance
Programs for Multi-Family Residential
and Other Hard to Reach Customers.
Project #4557. Denver, Colo.: Water
RUBIN, S. J. 2003. Update of Affordability
Database for National Rural Water
SAUNDERS, M., P. Kimmel, M. Spade, and
N. Brockway. 1998. Water Affordability
Programs. Project #184. Denver, Colo.:
Water Research Foundation.
S TRATUS CONSULTING. 2013. Affordability
Assessment Tool for Federal Water
Mandates. Washington, D.C.: U.S.
Conference of Mayors; Denver, Colo.:
American Water Works Association;
Alexandria, Va.: Water Environment
prevent a utility
in others there
can be specific
programs (CAPs) across the United States
(EPA 2016). The document is largely based
on publicly available information. This
report segregated the various forms of
CAPs into the following types of programs,
also shown in Figure 3:
º Bill discounts: Utilities reduce a cus-
tomer’s bill, usually long term. Can be
applied to nearly any type of rate
structure or aspect of the bill.
º Flexible Terms: Utilities help custom-
ers afford services and pay bills
through arrearage forgiveness, bill
timing adjustment, or predictable
º Lifeline Rate: Customers pay a subsi-
dized rate for a fixed amount of water,
which is expected to cover that cus-
tomer’s basic water needs.
º Temporary Assistance: Utilities help
customers on a short-term or one-
time basis to prevent disconnection
of service or restore service after dis-
connection for households facing an
º Water Efficiency: Utilities subsidize
water efficiency measures by provid-
ing financial assistance for leak
repairs and offering rebates for water
efficient fixtures and appliances.
The compendium includes utility snapshots for 365 CAPs offered by water and
wastewater utilities across the United
States. The snapshots are grouped by
state, municipality, and name of the util-ity/agency. The types of programs, listed
above, are also denoted for each snapshot.
The 7th edition of the American Water
Works Association’s manual, M1 Principles
of Water Rates, Fees and Charges, is due for
release in January 2017. The “Low-Income
Affordability Programs” chapter will be significantly updated from the last edition
(AWWA 2012). The chapter will focus on
the inability of the poorest segment of the
customer base to fund its proportionate
share of the total costs of the provision
of utility services. The chapter concludes
that defining affordability must be done
at the local level, due to variations in local
economic conditions, compositions of the