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


California utility regulators lead the way with comprehensive affordability assessmentWonderboy was the star of the movie, but Savoy Special won the gameBetween a global pandemic and a presidential election, you might have missed it, but


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


​About that water affordability study in The Guardian...Water is a ZILLION PERCENT unaffordable! Also, aliens.The Guardian recently published a big story on water utility affordability in the United States. The headline was shocking: “Millions of


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


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


An update on what low-income U.S. households must pay for essential serviceIt's hard to come up with amusing images for this topicAbout a year ago I also published the results of a national study


​A five-point proposal to transform the U.S. water sectorAs daunting as the challenges in the U.S. water sector are, solutions are possible and within our grasp. Thanks to legions of smart, creative scientists and


Important developments in California for utility affordabilityYou probably need all threeCalifornia’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is working on establishing methods to measure affordability for utility service. The CPUC governs ratemaking for the state’s investor-owned


​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


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 California surprise: updatePost-drought pornCalifornia has been enjoying a great deal of rain and snow over the past several months—a pleasant rebound in precipitation after the brutal drought that plagued the state from 2011-2017.


Devils (and angels) in the details, Part 5The ironic regressivity of a luxury taxIn early January the California Water Board (SWRCB) published its long-anticipated draft proposal for a statewide low-income water bill assistance program. I’ve


Devils (and angels) in the details, Part 4Nobody wants to talk about this partIn early January the California Water Board published its long-anticipated draft proposal for a statewide low-income water bill assistance program. In the


Devils (and angels) in the details, Part 3In early January the California Water Board released its draft proposal for a statewide low-income water bill assistance program. My last couple posts summarized the proposal and


Devils (and angels) in the details, Part 2It's always about the money.In early January the California Water Board released its draft proposal for a statewide low-income water bill assistance program. My last post summarized


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


A reasonable expectationWhat low-income households pay for essential service in the United StatesThis post reports findings from 2017; an update for 2019 is available here.Over the past 18 months I’ve been working to develop


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


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


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


Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad measurement, part 2As my last post explained, the conventional method of measuring household-level water affordability is to divide a utility’s average residential bill by its community’s Median Household


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