Collecting tax revenue through water bills hurts affordability & turns utilities into coercive agents of governmentCan you find the tax?They may not realize it, but tens of millions of Americans pay taxes on the


On the limits of means-tested assistance programs for water & sewerRed Sox legend Ted Williams was the last player to bat over .400... in 1941**Warning: sports metaphor ahead**Like hitting a baseball, running a means-tested


Managing the $638 million low-income water & sewer assistance in the federal COVID relief packageNow what?As frequent readers of this page likely know, the COVID relief bill that Congress passed in December included $638


No, EPA did not propose affordability guidelines for municipal utilitiesAffordability!Late last week the EPA published in the Federal Register some proposed new guidelines for evaluating sewer utilities’ financial strength. In press releases and public


​Organization of U.S. drinking water utilities in a few simple figuresHere are some graphs that convey ​a few key things about the organization of drinking water utilities in the United States​.*Sources: Energy Information Administration


​The congressional COVID cavalry isn’t coming to save the water sector"Nobody got nothing to say about a 40-degree day."The ink was barely dry on a $2 trillion coronavirus response law when Congress started working


for a federal low-income water bill assistance program All watery eyes are fixed on Washington The ink is barely dry on the $2 trillion coronavirus response law, but there are rumblings that a another


How the federal government might end shutoffs & keep water flowing during the COVID-19 crisis Can't do this if your water has been shut off.The COVID-19 crisis has escalated America’s water and sewer affordability


​​Lessons from California ​water conservation​, 2019​Reservoirs aren't supposed to look like this.Tough water times may be back in California. After the Golden State suffered through a historically severe drought from 2012-2017, ​pleasantly wet weather


Understanding progressive & regressive water pricingIt's irrigation season, everybody!By Antonio & Manny TeodoroHow do utilities distribute the costs of drinking water systems to their customers in their rate structures?The answer is surprisingly complicated, and


Playing  to win  not to lose in water utility managementNature's Prevent DefenseWarning: strained sports metaphor coming.It’s late January, and the National Football League season soon reaches its climax with the Super Bowl. Both of


U.S. water utilities are shifting costs to low-volume customers—good for revenue stability, but bad for affordability​Luke Skywalker & friends escaped this crunch thanks to everyone’s favorite droid, but R2D2 isn’t going to help utilities


​Water Sector Reform #2: ​Regulatory Transparency & FairnessBringing together the best of both states​With a major federal investment in water infrastructure possibly on the horizon, the United States has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to leverage


What the Cuyahoga River Fire says about the past and maybe the future Fifty years ago this week the Cuyahoga River caught fire in downtown Cleveland.Observers of U.S. water policy and environmentalism more generally have


A Kansas water utility gets affordability measurement right And lo, there arose from the Kansas City suburbs a mighty measurement Recently we’ve seen progress in affordability measurement, as more water utilities are using better


A trillion-dollar federal infrastructure package and a chance to reform the water sectorThis post is not about theoretical physics- Warning: mixed metaphors ahead -Observers of America’s water, sewer, and stormwater systems have known for


Devils (and angels) in the details, Part 1Governor Newsom (nice haircut in the black jacket, back to the camera) dragged his cabinet down the Central Valley to hear what folks had to say about


Sometimes progress is visible in what you don’t seeEarlier this week I had the pleasure of speaking to the annual conference of the California Water Association, an organization of that state’s investor-owned water utility


Some observations about the new law & what it tells us about the politics of water infrastructure in AmericaHere's to you, AmericaThe Senate recently passed the America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) by a 99-1


Yeah this stinks kid, but it beats smallpoxWhy rate structures, not assistance programs, offer the most promising path to water affordabilityWhen discussions of water and sewer affordability turn to policy solutions, they typically focus


Remarks from the opening plenary session of the AWWA/WEF Transformative Issues SymposiumEarlier this week the American Water Works Association and Water Environment Federation hosted their first-ever Transformative Issues Symposium, a two-day meeting focused on a


Social science and defying the choice between clean and affordable waterThomas Hearns, the Motor City Cobra. One of my all-time favorites. Warning: sports cliché coming.Boxing is more popular as a literary metaphor than as a


A California Surprise, Part 2More drought porn (this is used to be Folsom Lake)How private implementation separates public policies from their political costs.Warning: this post contains hardcore wonkery.In 2015 the California State Water Resources


This guy measures water affordability as (Avg bill ÷ MHI)<2.0%Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad measurement, part 4My criticism of average bill ÷ Median Household Income (MHI) as a measure of household-level water affordability


Not actually in the book of NumbersTerrible, horrible, no good, very bad measurement, part 3As my last couple of posts explain, the conventional method of measuring household-level water affordability is to divide a utility’s


This officer is not trying to measure statewide alcohol salesA feral howl on the conventional method of assessing household water affordability, part 1Recently a colleague asked me how I first got interested in water


Why water utility service can be simultaneously underpriced and unaffordableAnalysis of water and sewer affordability implies a concern that the prices of these critical services might be too high. At the same time, decades


What California’s SB-623 reveals about water affordability and the politics of public financeWho shall pay? is the perennially vexing refrain for would-be providers of public goods. Everyone likes nice things; no one likes to


The case for rate-funded water affordabilityWarning: this post contains hardcore wonkery.One of the most trenchant questions that emerged during the recent California State Water Resources Control Board affordability symposium (pursuant to California AB-401) was


Can declaring a human right to water help address affordability?Something extraordinary is unfolding in California.In 2012, to great fanfare, California governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 685, which amended the state’s water


The City of Jacksonville, FL is contemplating sale of JEA, its municipal electric, water, and sewer utility. For years Jacksonville has toyed with the idea of selling JEA to a private investor, but the possibility


This is the second in my series of posts on the recently released White House infrastructure plan.We’re at a strange point in America’s fiscal history.Cash on corporate ledgers is high, bond rates remain at


The growing national attention to public infrastructure in the United States has been gratifying to those of us who have been working on the issue for a long time. Infrastructure has been a simmering