CAP program for low-income customers is among the best nationally, report notes overall affordability of water service improving year-over-year.
AUSTIN - Good news for Austinites as water service has become increasingly affordable, with trends indicating that the average residential customer will spend less of their income on water and wastewater bills in the coming year. These figures and trends in affordability are highlighted in the 2020 Affordability Metric Report released by Austin Water on Tuesday.
“Affordability is top-of-mind for the utility - just as it is for our customers,” said David Anders, Assistant Director of Austin Water Financial Services. “Customers can count on Austin Water for affordable water service as we continue to identify and improve savings that the utility can pass along to our customers in the form of rate reductions and other initiatives that improve affordability."
The report found that Austin Water’s Customer Assistance Program, designed to support low-income customers, is among the best in the country – offering some of the deepest discounts and the most robust assistance to customers in need. Customers enrolled in the CAP program received an 11.4% average rate reduction in FY2018, no rate increase in FY2019, an 8.3% average rate reduction in FY2020, and a 10% average rate reduction in COVID-19 Relief for FY2021.
Overall, the report noted continuous improvements over the years to the affordability of water service in Austin. The report studied water and wastewater service costs and found that the average annual bill as a percentage of median household income (MHI metric) fell from 1.47% in FY2017 down to 1.31% in FY2020. The utility also projects that the average residential customer of Austin Water, having a median household income, will spend 1.29% of their annual income on water and wastewater bills in FY2021.
The report also looked at internal metrics and benchmarks to compile a comprehensive study about the utility’s efforts to stabilize rates and improve affordability for customers of all incomes.
The first Affordability Metric Report, which was compiled by Austin Water, was provided to Austin City Council in 2018 and set the benchmark for future analysis and evaluation of Austin Water’s successes in improving affordability for all customers. Updates to these metrics have been completed in 2019 and now in 2020.
For more information about Austin Water’s affordability initiatives or to view the complete 2020 Affordability Metric Report, visit AustinWater.org.
Improving affordability is a component of Austin Water’s long-term strategic business plan that uses Effective Utility Management principles to meet the challenges ahead. The utility continues to find savings through cost containment, debt management, and innovations in technology and processes. Cost savings are then passed along to customers as rate reductions, rebates, and financial assistance.