Understanding Water Affordability in the United States

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Biden School of Public Policy & Administration, University of Delaware, Newark DE 19716, USA
Access and affordability to clean water in households are primarily considered third world issues – which is why there seems to be limited research on water affordability focused on the first world. However, rising water prices over time have become a growing concern even in the developed world, especially for the low-income population. Therefore, this paper takes a deep dive into the literature available on water affordability in the United States to explain what water affordability means; the equity and efficiency concerns around it; how it is measured; the critiques to the standard affordability threshold being used; the possible alternative criteria that can be considered instead; and the policy responses to the current water affordability challenges. The analysis presented indicates the need to understand water affordability from an equity standpoint, though it does not suggest a decrease in prices across the board or making water services free. This research can serve as a baseline for future studies related to water affordability within different regions in the United States and other developed countries.
Water affordability, Water pricing, Water access, Water scarcity, Water equity, EPA affordability threshold
Bilal A (2022). Understanding Water Affordability in the United States. Biden School J. Pub. Pol, 13, 35-45