I received an interesting email today from a woman in a town on the Oregon coast. She and her husband, both in their late sixties and on Social Security, were having trouble paying their water bill. Seems their rates had recently gone up dramatically to fund a new wastewater treatment plant.
She told me the city manager had been sympathetic to their plight but was unable to help any further. The state of Oregon could not help. A local charity was helping them with their power bills but had no money for their water bill (I thought water would be more important than water). Now they are being threatened with service discontinuation and are at wits' end. She asked for my help to write a proposal to someone or something to obtain support not just for them, but also for all low income people in the town.
I felt badly but couldn't think of anything to do, except for proposing lifeline rates and/or a fund to which ratepayers could contribute help low income people.
She had never heard of such things, and I sent her links to the City of Olympia's program and the City of Tumwater's program. I also found a link to an EPA publication that does not deal exclusively with lifeline water and sewer rates but does have some information on utilities with lifeline rates/programs.
And here is a 2002 paper prepared by EPA for DC:
She was enthusiastic but thought that the very conservative City Council might not go for such a plan.
My curiosity has been piqued now. I told her to keep me informed.
“I feel that the greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more.” - Dr. Jonas Salk