One Water Addresses Water Affordability Issues

One Water PartnershipThe One Water Partnership between Louisville Water and Louisville MSD has made strides in addressing local issues surrounding water affordability. These efforts began in early 2020 when the Partnership participated in a US Water Alliance pilot project: Minimizing Water Shutoffs for Low-Income Households.

“We assembled six members of MSD and Louisville Water’s staff to meet each week and review internal policies to see what could be done to help minimize shutoffs for our local low- and moderate-income customers,” said One Water Executive Director Shannon Tivitt. “The Pilot Project Team became our first Internal Water Equity Team.” 

Then the pandemic began “and everything went sideways,” Tivitt said. “The same team we assembled for the pilot project quickly became the team leading efforts on how we dealt with our customer-assistance programs during a crisis, and we kept the conversation between partners going.”

The customer-assistance programs were consolidated as the Drops of Kindness program. In 2021, One Water started a community conversation about water affordability through Drops of Kindness and committed to work towards enhancing affordability initiatives. Since then, One Water has engaged with other utilities on a national level to learn best practices. The Partnership’s Internal Water Equity Team is now known as the Water Affordability Working Group, which meets regularly and gathers information to analyze data and assess programs.

One Water PartnershipTivitt pointed out that community partners are another vital component in water affordability efforts. For instance, in August 2023, DeWanna Hadder, a Metro United Way representative, spoke to the Working Group about the organization’s United Community platform, which connects nearly 500 other organizations – including social service programs, government agencies, and healthcare providers – to deliver care to the most vulnerable community members.

Through the work of the One Water Partnership, Louisville Water and MSD will establish a clear path to addressing affordability during the coming months. “Our consultant, Raftelis, will help us assess our current customer-assistance programs, benchmark the programs with other peer utilities, and develop our water affordability roadmap,” Tivitt said.