Solution #1: Price Water to Reflect its True Value and the Cost of Service.

Despite its essential nature, the United States has undervalued and underinvested in water, and the result is a cascade of compounding problems. We need a sustainable business model and a pricing structure that reflects the true cost of service. We need a funding structure that closes the infrastructure gap and makes systems more resilient to emergencies like COVID-19.

A promising water pricing model for equity and financial resilience

A Promising Water Pricing Model for Equity and Financial Resilience

This report reveals a cost-based approach to pricing water, representing an opportunity to achieve greater equity by reducing water bills for most low-income households while preserving revenue and improving financial resilience for water utilities.
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Making Water a Public Good

This paper outlines what is needed from federal, state, and local leaders to ensure that water is viewed and treated as a public good and made available and accessible for all.

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Solution #2: Provide Affordable, Universal Access to Water.

We must build affordability into the financial business models of water agencies, giving them the tools and support needed to maintain service even when individuals struggle financially. We need to set local water agencies up for success on affordability—which requires co-investment and financial innovation. Solutions considered should span from local and regional rate structures all the way up to federal entitlement programs.
These fact sheets offer strategies for the creation and implementation of equitable water affordability policies and preventing shutoffs.
  1. Addressing Customer Debt
  2. Making Customer Assistance Programs Accessible
  3. Offering Engaged, Compassionate Customer Service
  4. Restructuring Rates for Long-Term Affordability
  5. Understanding Community Needs

The Path to Universally Affordable Water Access: Guiding Principles for the Water Sector

This groundbreaking report is the culmination of more than 18 months of convenings across eight US cities to understand the policy, practice, and impact of shutting off individual access to water due to the inability to pay water bills.

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Solution #3: Catalyze Utility Partnerships and Consolidations.

More than 80 percent of the nation’s 52,000 community water systems serve fewer than 3,330 people, and 55 percent serve fewer than 500. It is unrealistic to spread sustainable solutions to so many water agencies with different resource and capacity levels. It is time to accelerate community-driven, outcomes-based approaches to partnerships and consolidation that deliver improved water service to communities.

Catalyzing Community-Driven Utility Consolidations and Partnerships

This report examines strategies, tactics, and resources for community-driven consolidations and partnerships in the state of California. Though focused on California, this report reveals lessons and ideas that can spark similar dialogues and progress in communities across the nation.

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Solution #4: Deploy Smart Water Operations at Scale.

The pandemic reveals why water agencies that made investments in big data, artificial intelligence, remote sensing technology, modern billing and customer service systems, and other digital solutions are better positioned and more resilient than their peers. As municipalities face mounting pressure to “do more with less,” we must scale these solutions to become standard operating practices at every water agency. Intelligent water systems more readily adapt to changing contexts and help public agencies operate efficiently and effectively, even under great strain.

Advancing Water Equity in Small and Rural Communities: The Role of Digital Solutions

This report highlights the importance of leveraging digital solutions and water management strategies to advance water equity and ensure safe, reliable water services for small and rural communities that are on the verge of losing water access.

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Solution #5: Use Water as a Pathway to Address the Climate Crisis.

Scientists say we have less than a decade to act on climate, and any efforts to help the water sector recover stronger must contribute to progress on the climate crisis. The water sector has ample opportunities to contribute to climate mitigation and adaptation efforts while pursuing sector goals like resilience and sustainability. From renewable energy generation to carbon sinks, water can help reduce the nation’s carbon footprint.

Water’s Net Zero Plus: A Call to Action for Climate Mitigation

This report details the US water sector’s essential role in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is the culmination of a six-month collaborative process in which a 40+ representative Imagination Team engaged in dialogues and strategic movement building around climate action.

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