Affordability assessment toolOn May 29, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, American Water Works Association (AWWA), and Water Environment Federation released an Affordability Assessment Tool for Federal Water Mandates. The goal of this tool and a related joint issue brief is to relieve undue economic burdens on communities facing federal water mandates, which often address combined sewer overflows (CSOs). Some cities are now facing billion-dollar consent decrees to address CSOs, which can place a significant burden on low-income, fixed-income, and renter-occupied households. The brief proposes that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reassess the definition of affordability, which the organizations say relies too heavily on median household income.

The cost of upgrading and rehabilitating aging stormwater infrastructure is significant. EPA estimates that an investment of $188.4 billion is necessary to manage stormwater and preserve water quality. However, “EPA often does not count these infrastructure costs in its affordability calculation,” said AWWA Executive Director David LaFrance.

Worksheets within the tool can help communities calculate affordability at various income levels and demographic characteristics with online data. Read the announcement.