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Seattle Public Utilities - Utility Discount Program

2020

In recent years, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), which is the city’s water utility and provides drinking water and wastewater treatment, has strongly emphasized community engagement and equity issues through the creation of a variety of organizations and programs. One organization, Connect Capital, which is comprised of SPU staff and members of a community foundation and a community organization, advises SPU on how to ensure that the benefits of future  investments are equitable and address climate threats to those at risk of displacement. One result of Connect Capital’s encouragement is SPU’s investment in infrastructure in frontline communities, such as the South Park Neighborhood. Another equitable initiative under SPU is the Utility Discount Program, under which seniors, persons with disabilities, and low-income customers receive a reduction in their water and electricity bills. Households with incomes at or below 70% of state median income pay only 50% of their SPU bill. Further still, SPU’s Environmental Justice and Service Equity Division aims to promote inclusive community engagement and collaboration.

Related Organizations: Seattle Public Utilities

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Tiered Assistance Program

2017

The City of Philadelphia created the Tiered Assistance Program (TAP) in 2017 in order to address water affordability for low income communities. In Philadelphia, water affordability is an issue that affects a large number of families - between April 2012 and January 2018, 40% of households either had unpaid bills or some other sort of water debt. To address this issue, the Philadelphia Water Department implemented TAP, a program that allows customers to pay water bills at a percent of their income - this payment is capped at 3%. Through this program’s fixed rates, Philadelphians who are struggling to pay their water bill can budget more accurately and access more affordable water, which is predicted to result in increased payment rates and reduced water debts.

Related Organizations: City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project

The Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project (SERCAP) was established through funding from the U.S. Government’s Office of Economic Opportunity in the 1960s. The Project helps low-income rural communities in the mid-Atlantic and the Southeastern U.S. obtain water and wastewater infrastructure for running water, indoor plumbing, and wastewater treatment. Water utilities in these rural areas often lack funding to provide such infrastructure. Households that are not supplied with drinking water tend to rely on wells and septic tanks, which can get contaminated by pollution from agricultural activity and the lack of suitable wastewater treatment. SERCAP assists both individuals and municipalities, and its services include installing infrastructure, providing financing and loans, and offering technical support. In addition to providing services related to water, SERCAP also provides support on housing issues.

Resource Category: Organizations

 

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Managing Drought in a Changing Climate: Four Essential Reforms 

September 6, 2018

This Public Policy Institute of California report examines climate change impacts on water resources in California, and the state’s capacity for adaptation to water scarcity and drought. California’s 2012–2016 drought - which was the hottest in the state’s recorded history and one of the driest - is used to assess water management and responses from that time in four sectors: cities and suburbs, irrigated agriculture, rural communities, and freshwater ecosystems. Policy and management reforms are recommended for drought planning, water infrastructure and operations, water rights administration, and funding.

Related Organizations: Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Community-driven Water Solutions in California's Central Valley - Community Water Center

Formed in 2006, the Community Water Center (CWC) is a grassroots organization in California’s Central Valley that works to combat water insecurity in frontline communities through community organizing, policy advocacy and public education to influence water governance and decision making. Many residents of the Central Valley are from low income, predominantly Latinx communities that deal with water scarcity, groundwater contamination, or a lack of proper infrastructure. CWC provides technical and legal assistance for frontline communities, training residents as clean water advocates and helping to secure funding for sustainable drinking water projects.

Related Organizations: Community Water Center

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Connecticut Executive Order No. 66: State Water Plan (and State Water supply as Public Trust)

June 14, 2018

Connecticut Governor Malloy’s executive order directs the state’s Water Planning Council (WPC) to immediately implement the State Water Plan - that was submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly in January 2018. The EO recommits to the definition of water as a public trust – a declaration of public policy that has been in the state statute for more than 40 years. A Public Trust is essentially a policy that recognizes the public’s inherent right to water, among many other rights.

Related Organizations: State of Connecticut

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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California SB 606 - Water Management Planning

May 31, 2018

California Senate Bill 606 - Water Management planning was enacted with contingency on the passage of Assembly Bill 1668, both addressing water conservation and drought resilience across the state. Both respond to Governor Brown’s 2016 Executive Order B-37-16 - “Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life” which directs permanent changes to use water more wisely, eliminate water waste, strengthen local drought resistance, and improve agricultural water use efficiency and drought planning.

Related Organizations: California State Water Resources Control Board, California Department of Water Resources

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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California AB 1668 - Water Management Planning

May 31, 2018

California Assembly Bill 1668 was enacted with contingency on the passage of SB 606 - both addressing water conservation and drought resilience across the state. Both were adopted in response to Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-37-16 - “Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life” which directs permanent changes to use water more wisely, eliminate water waste, strengthen local drought resistance, and improve agricultural water use efficiency and drought planning.

Related Organizations: California State Water Resources Control Board, California Department of Water Resources

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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An Equitable Water Future: Opportunities for the Great Lakes Region 

March 6, 2018

The U.S. Water Alliance has investigated water assets and systems in the Great Lakes region, and the equitable management of these assets. The report describes climate change impacts on water resources, along with other equity issues such as failing infrastructure, affordability, and workforce inclusion. Opportunities for the region to adapt the water sector, and detailed strategies provide a framework for making these water systems more inclusive.

Related Organizations: U.S. Water Alliance

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Connecticut State Water Plan

January 2018

In January 2018, the Connecticut Water Planning Council released the Connecticut State Water Plan to coordinate and improve water management in the state and address the impacts of climate change. The plan, designed for policy makers, planners, and regulators, was informed by consultation with stakeholders and drafted through consensus-based decision-making. The State Water Plan recommends policies and management strategies, prioritizes key issues for Connecticut’s water, and identify strategies for improved water management in the future.

Resource Category: Planning

 

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