Water industry associations are helping utilities provide water and sewer service to the financially challenged with guidance documents and other programs. Two efforts by the American Water Works Association include:

The recently released 6th edition of Principles of Water Rates, Fees, and Charges (M1 Manual) includes an updated and expanded chapter on affordability program options.

An Oct. 3, 2012, webinar featuring speakers from three utilities that have established successful discount programs:

Initiated because of large required rate increases
Cleveland Division of Water, Ohio
Karen Lisowski, consulting engineer
216-664-2444 ext. 5633

The homestead program provides discounts for the totally and permanently disabled and residents 65 or older. Another program, administered by the Cleveland Housing Network, provides a 40% discount to qualifying households.

Initiated because of large capital program
Cape Coral Utilities, Fla.
Jeff Pearson, utilities director
(239) 574-0710

The water department offers two rate-reduction opportunities based on income and household size: the Hardship Deferral Program, which is based on income, and federally funded Connection Grant Assistance.

Customer donation-supported discount program
Orange Water and Sewer Authority, N.C.
Kevin Ray, finance and procurement manager

"Taste of Hope": Customers can have their bill rounded up to the nearest dollar amount and the additional money donated to the Taste of Hope Fund. Or they can have the authority add any whole dollar amount to their bill as a donation.

For more information, including pricing and registration instructions, click here.