Affordability of water and wastewater utility bills is a growing concern, with water rates rising faster than the cost of most other goods and services. Though many water utilities have been addressing affordability concerns in their own way, customers still struggle to make ends meet. While there is research on problem identification and water affordability interventions, there are few studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of those interventions, especially of the more emergent approaches.

This project addresses existing policy challenges by directly engaging water utilities and organizations representing utility stakeholders on the leading edge of addressing affordability. The proposed objectives of this research are to 1) document emerging utility-led affordability innovations across a variety of contexts and geographies; 2) evaluate the associated costs, benefits, and feasibility of different approaches; and 3) disseminate the findings to improve responsiveness and effectiveness of affordability efforts.

We convened four workshops with utilities and experts to gain deeper insight into the costs, benefits, and feasibility of affordability efforts. The following four blogs document the key takeaways from each workshop.


  • Principal Investigators: Greg Pierce, UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation (LCI); Morgan Shimabuku, Pacific Institute; Sri Vedachalam, CIS
  • Project Team: Grace Harrison, LCI; Christine Curtis, Pacific Institute; Margo Davis, CIS; Ahmed Rachid El-kattabi, UNC Environmental Finance Center

Funding Acknowledgements

Funding for this policy brief was provided by the Resources Legacy Fund. This brief This research was made possible by The Water Research Foundation (WRF) project 5179.

Photo credit: istock/tuachanwatthana

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