Growing up, I’m sure we can all recall a time where our parents would ask to borrow a cup of sugar from our neighbors, or neighbors would ask our parents if they could spare a packet of tea. Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine a time where we would have to ask our neighbors if we could borrow a cup of water.

Access to clean water is necessary for communities and wildlife to thrive. Water affordability is an issue all over the country. More and more people find it challenging to cover the cost of a utility that is a matter of life and death, the difference between feeding your family in a safe, clean environment and being exposed to deadly pathogens from unsanitary cooking conditions.

The issue of water affordability has been an ongoing concern for families across the nation. Many of those families were hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving them scrambling to figure out how to pay utilities they were already struggling to cover.

Cities Respond to the Water Affordability Crisis

Federal funding is necessary to solve the water affordability crisis. Photo via Getty Images.

Cities like Jackson, Mississippi, are doing their best to ensure that residents have water to meet their basic needs. Mayor Chokwe Lumumba recently announced a new pilot program for Jackson residents who have fallen behind on water and sewer payments to take advantage of state assistance. This program offers both a Low-Income Assistance Plan (LIAP), which places residents who are behind up to 24 months on a payment plan, and the Courtesy Payment Arrangement Plan (CoPAP), which offers a payment plan for residents who do not qualify as low-income.

Jackson isn’t the only city attempting to offer relief. Flint, Michigan, delivers water bill assistance through their water payment assistance fund. Residents are eligible to receive a credit of up to $75 on their City of Flint water bill. These residents can reapply to receive the credit on up to three monthly water bills 

As cities and states work together to solve the ongoing water affordability crisis, federal funding is needed to offer a more permanent solution. The National Wildlife Federation and the African American Mayors Association urge Congress to act quickly and pursue a bipartisan, comprehensive response to establish a permanent Low-Income Water and Wastewater Assistance Program funded at $3 billion annually to help keep struggling households connected to essential water and wastewater services.