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Illinois Congressman Sorensen Introduces Bill to Help Working Families Access Clean Drinking Water

Congressman Eric Sorensen (IL-17) along with Congresswoman Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-05), Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón (PR-AL), and Congresswoman Kim Schrier (WA-08) introduced the bipartisan Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) Establishment Act. This legislation will provide states with federal grants to help working families afford clean drinking water and wastewater services.  

 “We have wonderful communities here in Central and Northwestern Illinois, and I know too many of our working families are struggling to pay their bills and make ends meet,” said Sorensen. “Having access to safe and clean drinking water means families across our region can live healthy lives. The Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program Establishment Act makes this a reality for all of our neighbors, regardless of how much money they have. This program has been a lifeline for those who need a helping hand, and we must make sure LIHWAP continues to support those in need.”  

 “The Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program has helped thousands of Oregon households afford their water bills, including in rural areas and communities that have faced steep rate hikes. As families continue to pay elevated prices for everything from gas and groceries to rent and utilities, now is not the time to cut off critical assistance for those who need it most,” said Chavez-DeRemer. “I’m proud to lead this bipartisan legislation with Congressman Sorensen to authorize and establish the LIHWAP permanently. I look forward to working together on this effort to provide continued assistance for working families.” 

Illinois Congressman Sorensen Introduces Bill to Help Working Families Access Clean Drinking Water

Eric Sorensen

“Water is the most essential of all the public utility services,” said González-Colón. “The LIHWAP program has been vital for many low-income families across the nation, including over 11,200 homes in Puerto Rico avoiding service interruptions. Over 10,000 of those homes include seniors and over 3,700 include one or more disabled members. We must protect this program and I am glad to join as a co-sponsor of this bipartisan initiative to reauthorize it for the long term.”  

 

“No family should lose access to reliable water in their home because of inability to pay. Water is essential for any household’s health and well-being,” said Schrier. “With rising costs, programs like LIHWAP play an integral role in ensuring that Washingtonians, regardless of financial status, have access to water in their homes. That’s why I’m proud to be an original cosponsor on this legislation, which would significantly impact the 8th District and communities across the country.” 

 

“For two years, LIHWAP was a lifeline for customers struggling to keep up with their water bills,” said Tracy Mehan, Executive Director of American Water Works Association Government Affairs Office. “We are pleased that Reps. Sorensen and Chavez-DeRemer have joined Sen. Padilla in the next phase of moving this important legislation forward. Authorizing a permanent low-income assistance program is an important step toward assuring that all households have access to safe and reliable water service.” 

 

“Drinking water service is an essential lifeline, regardless of a person’s income,” said Tom Dobbins, CEO of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies. “AMWA thanks Reps. Sorensen and Chavez-DeRemer, along with Sen. Padilla, for their leadership in the effort to extend the LIHWAP program, and we are proud to support the LIHWAP Establishment Act. Just as the federal government has long-established programs to support nutrition assistance and home heating and cooling service for households in need, it is necessary to include low-income water assistance in the federal safety net as well.” 

 

“We have seen firsthand how LIHWAP has proven to be successful in getting assistance to our neighbors who need it the most,” said Robert F. Powelson, President and CEO of the National Association of Water Companies. “We are grateful for the leadership of Reps. Sorensen and Chavez-DeRemer as well as Sen. Padilla and their efforts to help consumers by introducing and championing legislation to make this assistance permanent. Now it is imperative that Congress take action to establish a permanent low-income assistance program so that the most vulnerable households have a lifeline when they are struggling.” 

 

“LIHWAP has proven to be an essential lifeline, serving more than 1.6 million households who cannot afford clean and safe water services,” said Adam Krantz, CEO of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA). “NACWA applauds the leadership of Reps. Sorensen and Chavez-DeRemer in recognizing the need for a permanent federal water assistance program. This program helps public clean water agencies make necessary infrastructure investments while protecting households in need. We look forward to working with these Congressional water champions to get this across the finish line.” 

 

“WEF is grateful for the leadership and compassion Representatives Sorensen and Chavez-DeRemer have demonstrated through the introduction of the low-income household water assistance program legislation (LIWAP). Clean, safe, and reliable drinking water, sewer, and stormwater services are critical to public health, public safety, and environmental protection.” said Aimeé Killeen, President of the Water Environment Federation (WEF). “Household ratepayers provide the vast majority of the funds needed to maintain, operate, and modernize our water systems. Unfortunately, many households also face financial struggles that make it difficult to pay rising utility bills. Having a sustainable financial assistance program to help these households not only ensures that all Americans receive essential water services, but also allows the entire community to benefit from investment back into our water systems.” 

 

The bill will establish the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP). This program assists working families pay for clean drinking water and other wastewater services by subsidizing the utility bills of eligible households. Funding will go from the state to the utility and be deducted from the household’s bill. The program will originate with the Department of Health and Human Services and will transition to the Environmental Protection Agency. 

 

States may also use up to fifteen percent of funds to offset the cost of administering, determining eligibility of, and conducting outreach to low-income households. 

 

LIHWAP was briefly funded in 2021 and 2022. In Illinois, LIHWAP has served 84,759 households, prevented 19,233 water disconnections, helped 4,889 families have their water restored, and assisted 56,921 families in having their water bills reduced.  

 

Read the full text of the bill here 

Illinois Congressman Sorensen Introduces Bill to Help Working Families Access Clean Drinking Water

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Sean Leary Director of Digital Media

Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.

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