42 SOURCE winter 2017
Who Will Bring Water to the Poor?
Continued from page 6
It may not be politically correct to speak of “the poor,” but poverty and
the distribution of wealth are at the root of the affordability problem.
This is much too large an issue to tackle here, but the question is
apparent at local and state levels. California is attempting to address it
with new policy considerations:
System consolidation. This redistributes wealth at a local level,
where the resources of a broader pool of ratepayers are used to
address the problems of poor communities unable or unwilling to
invest scant resources to address problems in their water systems.
Low-income rate assistance. California Assembly Bill 401 (2015)
requires analysis of existing rate assistance programs as a basis for a
legislative or regulatory mandate. It is still to be determined where
the money will come from, and where the responsibility will land,
but my cynical self expects the state to mandate it as a local water
utility program instead of reaching into the state’s general fund.
The signals are all around us urging water utilities and associations
concerned about safe, affordable, accessible water and sanitation to
make our voices heard on affordability and the larger issue of every
human being’s right to water. That’s us, dear reader. What do we
believe, and what are we prepared to do? S
Timothy Worley, Ph.D.