West Virginia PSC asks Congress to support Low-Income Household Water Assistance plan


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

People on fixed incomes or low wages often have trouble paying their monthly water bills, so the Public Service Commission of West Virginia urged the state's lawmakers in Congress Wednesday to support a permanent and federally funded Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP).

This program provides temporary assistance only to families in need to cover a portion of their water and wastewater bills. Since its creation, LIHWAP has assisted more than 17,229 low-income families in West Virginia.

"As regulators with oversight of the water industry in West Virginia, we believe it is imperative that Congress take action to provide continued funding for a permanent low-income water assistance program," PSC Chairman Charlotte R. Lane told the state's two U.S. senators and House of Representatives' members.

Sponsored by Reps. Eric Sorensen, D-Ill.; Lori Chavez-DeRemer, R-Ore; Kim Schrier, D-Wash; and Jennifer Gonzalez-Capon, representing Puerto Rico, their bill (H.R. 8032) is a companion to Senate legislation introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif, earlier this year.

Both pieces of legislation would permanently authorize the program, which was established by Congress four years ago to promote public health by easing the burden on families struggling to afford their monthly water bills, Lane said.

"Communities across West Virginia rely on these essential services for their public health and wellbeing," Lane said in a copy of her letter sent to U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. "Customers are and will continue to be responsible for most of the cost of providing water and sewer services in their community, but as the price of water services increases, there are times when unexpected hardships make it difficult for some families to cover the full amount of their water and wastewater bills."

Lane asked that Congress back the assistance program.

"The Public Service Commission of West Virginia encourages you to support legislation to assure continued critical federal water assistance to the most vulnerable to help them pay for water service," Lane said.

"If the LIHWAP program lapses, there is no question that many will suffer," Lane said to lawmakers. "LIHWAP has proven to be a successful program in getting assistance to those who need it the most."

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com