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


​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


​During a public health crisis, getting the research right is paramountBeware the confundus charm​It started with a tweet.A new peer-reviewed Utilities Policy article on water utility ownership, low-income households, and shutoffs? From a pair


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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