Date
Monday, September 9, 2024
Time
11:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Location Name
M101/102
Name
A Strategic Framework for Affordable Water & Sewer Services in Louisville
Track
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Description

The Louisville One Water initiative is a partnership between the Louisville Water Company (Louisville Water) and the Louisville/Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) designed to improve water service delivery. Raftelis was engaged to assist the Louisville One Water partners with an evaluation of the affordability of their services and develop a roadmap for promoting service affordability through policies, strategies, and customer assistance programs. The study examined household income levels and customer bills patterns, the effectiveness of existing customer assistance programs, and objectives that each utility prioritized relative to customer affordability. Raftelis evaluated the affordability of water and sewer services throughout Jefferson County and explored options to support customers facing financial difficulties based on common industry methods and experience developing innovative solutions. We will present the process that was used to perform the affordability assessment according to US EPA guidelines and other commonly used industry approaches and innovative techniques. Results of our analysis that demonstrate the potential burden that water and sewer services place on customers will be discussed, along with an approach that allowed the project team to estimate the total customer assistance dollars that would be needed to mitigate these burdens. The project included many interviews with key stakeholders for each organization including executive leadership, billing and customer service staff, and community partners. The information gathered from these discussions were instrumental in developing action items that form the basis of the affordability framework. The affordability framework has been developed to present strategies and tactics based on their priority to Louisville Water and MSD, the time required to examine and implement them, and the level of impact they may have to the community. The costs for water and sewer service continue to increase faster than inflation and affordability has become a central issue for nearly all utilities. This presentation will demonstrate how utilities can develop a more thorough understanding of how the costs of service affect customers and access to services. We will use the Louisville results as an example of techniques to communicate this analysis with governing bodies and customers. Affordability of service is not strictly a water issue since a primary driver is often widespread poverty. The presentation will present ideas of ways that the water sector can become leaders in addressing this crisis in our local communities. Attendees will also hear about the customer assistance programs currently offered by Louisville Water and Louisville MSD. We will identify Louisvilleā€™s list of goals and objectives for providing affordable water and sewer services to low-income customers, and also cover the suggested affordability action items for Louisville in the future. The main objectives of these action items are to reduce bill impacts, simplify the customer experience, tailor assistance according to need, and minimize service shutoffs.