In a series of policy briefs, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Water Task Force has explored some of the unique challenges and opportunities facing our nation’s water and wastewater sectors. Safeguarding Water Affordability outlined the pricing pressures driving water rates higher, the challenge of safeguarding affordability, considerations in rate-setting, and policy strategies to address affordability. Since its release, BPC has continued its research and outreach to water sector stakeholders to further examine the options for addressing water affordability at the federal level.
While many legislative proposals have been laid on the table, building consensus for them in Congress and generating the momentum to act have had roadblocks. This brief explores three policy levers the federal government has to address water affordability and the particular challenges they face in gaining bipartisan support:
- Expanding funding and financing options;
- Strengthening customer assistance; and
- Promoting utility best practices.
A bipartisan path forward should work to balance the clear need for additional resources—in water infrastructure investments and customer assistance—with the need for greater efficiency and accountability in the water sector, while prioritizing limited assistance dollars to those most in need of them.