This study uses contemporary metrics and data from an original, representative sample of water and sewer utilities in the United States to calculate the affordability of basic single-family residential water and sewer services for lowincome households in 2019. Results show that affordability conditions have worsened on average since the last such study in 2017: low-income households must spend an average of 16.5% of their disposable income (up from 10.9%) and/or work 10.1 h at minimum wage (up from 9.9 h) to pay for basic monthly water and sewer services. Analysis suggests that rising prices combine with underlying economic trends to exacerbate affordability.

Changes in rate structure have shifted water and sewer systems' relative cost burdens from high-volume to low-volume customers.


Teodoro, Manuel P. & Robin Rose Saywitz. 2020. “Water and Sewer Affordability in the United States, 2019,” AWWA Water Science 2(2): e1176.

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