Water Rates: Water Affordability – Issue Brief

Water Rates: Water Affordability – Issue Brief

Published: June 2012

Authors: Pacific Institute and the Community Water Center

Pages: 7

Water Rates: Water Affordability – Issue Brief


Water rates in the United States are not typically understood as a human rights issue, but utility bills can be an exceptional burden for low income households. Water rates that cost more than one and a half to three percent of household income can prevent individuals and families from accessing water for basic needs. When affordability impedes individuals’ ability to access water, it can significantly impact public health.

There are many ways utility companies can implement affordability measures for low-income households, such as implementing budget billing, enacting late fee forgiveness, and finding alternatives to rate-based revenue sources. This fact sheet provides information on water rate affordability measures, as well as successful water affordability programs in California.


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