Better federal water bill assistance with this one weird trickKeys to affordable water bills?When Congress created a new $638 million federal Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) last December, it was part of


How to stop taxing waterIt’s hard to know exactly how much money Americans are paying in taxes at the tap, but it’s a lot. Last time I described the variety of ways that governments


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


Confluence. [kän-flü-ən(t)s]. n. A coming or flowing together, meeting, or gathering at one point.Water is a big deal in Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania is a swing state. Am I being to subtle?More evidence that, in a


Why water should be the Biden Administration’s top environmental priorityEvidently the president-elect is confident managing stormwater.The Biden administration’s environmental policy priorities are likely to be quite different from the Trump administration’s, and the impending


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


​Sovereignty isn’t what’s on paper, it’s what flows through taps and riversEnvironmental sovereignty (Photo: nativenewsonline.net)America is slowly awakening to the dire state of tribal water and sewer systems. Access to drinking water and sanitation


​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


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


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


Water Sector Reform #5: Environmental JusticePhoto credit: EJCW.orgWith a major federal investment in water infrastructure possibly on the horizon, the United States has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to leverage that money into a structural transformation of


Water Sector Reform #4: Human CapitalPeople + Pipes​With a major federal investment in water infrastructure possibly on the horizon, the United States has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to leverage that money into a structural transformation


Water Sector Reform #3: Smart SystemsSewer inspectors: Old School & New SchoolWith a major federal investment in water infrastructure possibly on the horizon, the United States has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to leverage that money


​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


​Better TogetherWater Sector Reform #1: ConsolidationWith a major federal investment in water infrastructure possibly on the horizon, the United States has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to leverage that money into reforms to transform America’s water


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 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


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


Gender predicts concern for water utility issuescoliform contamination would make this way less romanticDo men and women think differently about their water utilities? In a recent post I wrote about some findings from a


How utility people—and everybody else—think about water issuesWhere's your head at?Each year the American Water Works Association (AWWA) conducts a survey of its members on the State of the Water Industry (SOTWI). The survey


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


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