Water Access & Affordability

Why It Matters


Water is a basic human right, and we support the United Nations’ declaration of access to clean water and sanitation as a human right, regardless of economic status. As a national water utility, we know that our water supply must be safe, efficient, reliable, accessible and affordable. We consistently achieve affordable water costs that are significantly below the EPA’s suggested guidance of 2.5% of household income. On average, our customers pay less than a penny per gallon for the water they use. 


Our Approach

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Our approach to water access and affordability consists of two key strategies. The first is to provide water supply that is safe, reliable and meets the needs of our customers. The second is to provide affordable water services to customers while protecting our customers’ right to clean water, regardless of economic status or geographic location. We also focus on addressing water affordability by maximizing both supply-side and demand-side efficiency. Please see our Water Infrastructure and Water Use & Efficiency sections for more. 

Our Performance

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Geographic variability can cause significant differences in the cost of water services. For example, terrain challenges and low population density, combined with lower median incomes, can increase water costs as a proportion of household income. Recognizing these challenges, we work to balance infrastructure investment needs with water affordability to limit rate increases to 3–4% annually. We can also reach this balance by promoting O&M (Operations & Maintenance) efficiency, allowing us to increase our infrastructure investment by $8 for every O&M dollar we save, with no impact on the cost of water services.

The EPA recommends that water bills stay in the range of 2% and 2.5% of median household income for wastewater and water service bills respectively. American Water’s average monthly residential water and wastewater bills are approximately 60% below the EPA’s benchmark for water affordability, and we continue to monitor the number of customers enrolled in our assistance programs to make sure we are effectively responding to customer needs.