New legislation would help families pay their water bills
GEORGETOWN, Del. – On Wednesday, Maryland United States Senator Ben Cardin brought a new piece of legislation to the table that would help low-income families afford their rising water bills.
“Sometimes the bills are more than they’re bringing in,” said the executive director for the First State Community Action Agency in Georgetown, Bernice Edwards.
The proposed bill known as the 2018 Low Income Water Customer Assistance Program Act would establish 32 nationwide programs for low-income residents to receive aid in paying their drinking water and wastewater utility bills. In Sussex County, officials who’ve dedicated their life to assisting families in need say they hope to see one of those 32 programs come to the area.
“If the person is working every day and doesn’t have the means to pay those bills, if they can get some support and some help it would be very good for them and their families,” said Edwards.
Officials say the new legislation comes amid skyrocketing water bills with prices expected to increase by nearly 41 percent by 2020 nationally, which is largely due to the need to cover the costs of replacing the country’s aging water infrastructure. They add If consumers are unable to pay their water bills, utility companies will be unable to make the upgrades necessary to keep drinking and wastewater safe.
“We’ve seen that increase over the last year.The bills are getting higher and the families are not able to pay they can pay some up towards the bill but not their total bill,” said Edwards.
Officials add that although still in it’s early stages they have high hopes for this new bill that could play a critical role in people’s lives across the country. If the bill is passed, officials say eligible communities will be able to apply for the Wastewater Assistance Pilot Program grant. They add that those eligible for the grant would include communities that provide drinking water services to a city, county, or municipality with a population of less than 10 thousand residents at least 20 percent of whom are at or below the federal poverty level.