The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners recently sent letters to both the U.S. House and Senate. The letter addressed the need for congress to eliminate the ceiling for private activity bonds that support investment in Water and Wastewater Infrastructure. Citing that every two(2) minutes a water main breaks somewhere in the U.S., and that a century old, “D” rated drinking water infrastructure is putting access to clean water at risk for many poorer communities.  A combination of rising unemployment due to the pandemic, and the difficulties that low-income Americans face in accessing water resources, is causing some citizens to live without clean water.

As provided by the letter, solutions to the problem would be two-fold:  increase private and public investment in water infrastructure; and creation of a program to ensure cheap access to a reliable water supply. The letter expresses that the cost of repairing the national water infrastructure will be too costly for ratepayers alone to the foot the bill. A study conducted by the Value of Water Campaign estimates a gain of at least $220 billion, in terms of economic activity, by closing the water infrastructure investment gap. Ultimately, the letter calls for congress to create a Low-income Subsidy Program. A similar program is already in place for assistance with energy bills, but the need remains for a program to address affordable access to water for low-income customers. There’s also a call for congress to increase LIHEAP funding during the pandemic.
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