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Manny Teodoro On Increasing Water Affordability through a Permanent Federal Water Assistance Program

  • Manny Teodoro
  • August 29 2023
  • PC129-2023

Manny Teodoro
Manny Teodoro

The federal government established a temporary water assistance program to alleviate the burden of water costs on households during the COVID-19 pandemic. Establishing a permanent water assistance program can increase long-term water affordability for households. In this episode, Dr. Manny Teodoro discusses the report he co-authored for the National Association of Clean Water Agencies that assessed options for a permanent federal water assistance program and shares how extending SNAP benefits would help increase water affordability.

Manny Teodoro is the Robert and Sylvia Wagner Professor at the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research focuses on U.S. environmental policy and implementation, as well as utility management, policy, and finance.

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Taylor [00:00:06] Hello and thanks for joining us for the Poverty Research and Policy podcast from the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I’m Nateya Taylor, for this episode, we are going to be talking with Dr. Manny Teodoro about water equity, water affordability and the recent report he co-prepared that was published by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies. Manny Teodoro is the Robert and Sylvia Wagner, professor at the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research focuses on U.S. environmental policy and implementation, as well as utility management, policy, and finance. Manny, thanks for joining us today.

Teodoro [00:00:45] It’s great to be with you Nateya.

Taylor [00:00:47] So I first want to start off by asking what does water equity mean?

Teodoro [00:00:53] It’s a tough question, really. And rather than trying to formulate my own answer, I’m going to give you the answer developed by an organization called the U.S. Water Alliance, and their definition is access to safe, clean, affordable drinking water and wastewater services for all. That’s it.

Taylor [00:01:16] On the topic of water equity. Today, we’re going to be especially talking about water affordability and the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program, pronounced LIWAP. So can you tell us a little bit more about what LIWAP is and why was the program implemented?

Teodoro [00:01:35] Sure. So LIWAP we probably at this point should be talking about it in the past tense for reasons that will be clear in just a moment. So so LIWAP was a new program was introduced in late 2020 or was passed by Congress in late 2020 as part of the first big maybe the second big COVID relief package. So it was the first program to provide customer assistance for water and sewer services specifically. It was funded initially in that first 2020 legislation and about $638 million. And then a few months later, in early 2021, Congress added another half billion dollars with the American Rescue Plan. So you put it all together, it’s about $1.1 billion program. And it was very much packaged at that time. It was packaged as a COVID relief effort. Now, it wasn’t that long ago. I’m sure you remember Congress was passing all kinds of stuff within a very short period of time during the pandemic, all kind of under the umbrella of pandemic relief. And people at that time, quite understandably, were concerned that or Congress was concerned that people had access to water and sewer services, because we’re in the middle of a public health crisis. And probably the single most important thing you could do in public health is make sure people have adequate water and sewer services. And a lot of folks were stuck at home, you know, dealing with health challenges. So, of course, it’s a huge issue. That program, however, even though it was packaged as a COVID relief bill. If you sort of think of the back story of LIWAP, there had been activists for many years trying to introduce a federal water and sewer bill assistance program. And COVID kind of became that moment that gave them an opportunity to finally get it through Congress, because at that point, Congress, we were, you know it wasn’t that long ago. We were pretty desperate. The economy was was shutting down. We had this this disease ravaging our population. And so people kind of wanted to throw anything that they could at the problem. And one of those things was water and sewer bill assistance. So it was packaged as a as a COVID relief program. But really, it was a program that certain activists had been pushing for a long period of time. And members of Congress, including at one time the junior senator from California, one, Kamala Harris, introduced legislation some years ago to try to push this kind of program. And it just kind of took this moment of COVID to make it finally happen. The program itself, LIWAP It’s a strange kind of program in the sense that it was sort of copy pasted. It was copied from a program called LIHEAP the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Now, that’s a very old program. It’s been around since the 1970s, and it was, as the name suggests, it’s for home energy, particularly for home heating in the summer excuse me in the winter and then now sometimes home cooling in the summer. So the basic program design from LIHEAP was basically copied over into LIWAP. So the same basic framework came from LIHEAP over to LIWAP. It’s kind of a strange fit. So LIHEAP doesn’t work that great for the energy sector, all that well and it’s a very strange fit for the water sector.

Taylor [00:05:12] Why didn’t the like LIHEAP energy model work for LIWAP?

Teodoro [00:05:18] Yeah, it has to do with the fundamental organization of the energy sector versus the water sector. They’re really three different industries. Just to give you a sense of scale. If you look at it across the United States, at the electricity and gas energy sectors, those are the sectors covered by LIHEAP. And if you take all of the utilities in the energy sector put together, you’re looking at something like four or 5000 utilities. Now, that’s a lot. Four or 5000 utilities. In the water sector it’s close to 50,000. So you’re talking about an order of magnitude greater numbers of organizations in the water sector. So we’re talking about massive, massive fragmentation. And that’s before we even talk about the sewer side so that we take the drinking water and the sewer together. You’re looking at tens of thousands of organizations, most of which are very small right. They’re little tiny towns with maybe a few dozen homes and businesses that serve perhaps 500 or maybe a thousand people. And those organizations simply do not have the capacity to run an assistance program. The way that LIHEAP was set up, LIHEAP was set up to work in the energy sector, where most Americans get their service from a really big utility that serves millions and millions of customers. A great big utility has the staff to manage an assistance program and the basic design of LIHEAP sends money not to the customer, not to you, the low income customer. It sends money to the utility. So the federal government sends money to states, and those states turn around they send the money not to the customer, to the utility, and then the utility credits customers on their bills. So customers who apply for qualify for and receive LIHEAP assistance don’t actually get any money. What they get is a credit on their bill. So that money is going straight from Uncle Sam, funneled through the state agencies and into the utilities, not to the customers. All right. That system works in the energy sector, kind of. But if you take that model and bring it over to the water sector where you’ve got an order of magnitude more utilities with tiny staffs that do not have the sophisticated billing systems or accounting systems or personnel to manage that kind of program. And you’ve just got a mismatch. Most of the utilities in the water sector are so small they couldn’t possibly staff up the equivalent of what amounts to a human services organization. They can’t hire a customer service staff to handle just applications for assistance and all the paperwork that goes with that. The very largest utilities can, you know, the Milwaukee’s and the Chicago’s and the New York’s and the Detroit’s and the Denver’s and so on. They’re big enough that they can manage those systems, but the vast majority of utilities cannot. They’re just way too small. They don’t have the staff. They don’t have the capacity. And the entire model relies on the utilities participating. So LIWAP doesn’t work. Nobody, no customer gets assistance from LIWAP unless his or her utility signs up for the program and chooses to participate. So it doesn’t matter how desperately poor you are or how high your bill is, if your utility chooses not to participate because it’s too complicated and it’s a you know, you live in a small town somewhere, you simply aren’t going to get assistance. And again, that that model is designed to send funds not to customers, but to utilities. Those utilities decide, you know what? It’s just the juice ain’t worth the squeeze for us. It’s just too difficult, too complicated to comply with this program. And then to top it all off, the worst affordability problems and for that matter, access problems in the water sector are not in the big cities. They’re in the small towns, they’re in the rural areas. They’re in the areas of the urban fringe, maybe next to a big city, but not part of the big city. And that’s that’s where we see the highest prices. And a lot of times the worst poverty in the country. The most severe poverty problems in this country are not in big cities. They’re in rural areas. They’re in rural communities. That’s not to say we don’t have poverty problems in cities. Of course, we do. But those the urban poor tend to get a lot of attention from the media and from policymakers. The rural poor tend to be forgotten, and the price of water, and especially the prices of sanitary sewer service, are much higher in rural areas. And the LIWAP program is just fundamentally unsuited to help those folks because their utilities are just so small.

Taylor [00:10:08] Are you able to put numbers to this issue? Like, do we know how many households struggle to get or maintain access to affordable water?

Teodoro [00:10:19] Sure. It’s a difficult question to answer, mostly because there is no universally accepted definition of what affordable water and sewer service is. And there’s a lot of folks that throw around a lot of different definitions, but there is no official definition. Sometimes you’ll hear people say, well, the EPA defines affordability this way. That’s just not true. There is no, there is no official definition of affordability. However, if you look around at the way most experts talk about it, it’s usually defined as some function of percentage of income. So percentage of household income and then the so what is your water and sewer price as a function of household income? And then there’s a range that can go anywhere from 2 to 8 or 10% of that income. People will say, well, if it’s above this number, it’s unaffordable. So this is a very, very long way of saying it’s a hard number to nail down. But in the study that I participated in recently, looking at a national needs assessment, we put that number at anywhere between seven and 21 million households across the United States who we would describe as water burdened. So these are these are folks who maybe have access to a water or sewer system, but would by some definition, by some reasonable definition, struggle to pay that bill regularly or maybe a better way of putting it, paying that bill would involve potentially sacrificing significant other expenditures. To talk about percentage of income is one thing, but really what we’re ultimately interested in is what are people not able to do because they’re they have to pay for a water and sewer bill. Right. We don’t really care about the affordability of water if it means that you can’t have enough water to to to to irrigate your two acre lawn and your fill your swimming pool. We don’t really care about that kind of affordability from a public policy perspective. What we care about is folks who maybe can’t buy food, housing, medicine, you know, the basic necessities of life because their water bill is crowding out their other expenses. And so that’s the kind of affordability we’re talking about in that those like I said, that number is somewhere between seven and 20 million folks is primarily a function of poverty. Yes, water prices are going up. There’s no question water prices are going up. But compared to the other bills that most Americans pay every month, it’s still relatively cheap, certainly relatively cheap compared to what they pay for energy, what they pay for telecom services and, you know, phone, Internet and whatnot. But. As you and your listeners probably know, we’ve got an income inequality problem in this country and that income inequality is growing. So even as our economy grows that overall income and wealth increases, that rise is not lifting all boats. And so we’ve got communities in this country where that lower tier of income, that 20th percentile and lower is not growing. And in some cases, worst of all, it’s actually falling in some places. So that’s where we really see the squeeze. Is that that low end of the distribution. Yes, water prices are going up, but it’s really that they’re going up relative to the incomes and resources available to the lowest income people. And that’s why while it’s a water affordability problem, the affordability problem in most of the country is really just as much about poverty as it is about poverty and wage inequality or income inequality as it is about the price of water.

Taylor [00:14:03] So you’ve already touched on the differences in water affordability by geography in rural and urban neighborhoods and also income inequality. Are there other factors such as race or any other factors that impact water affordability?

Teodoro [00:14:20] Yes and no. With affordability, we think about affordability as the price of water and sewer service relative to the income and resources available to pay for it. There is obviously a strong correlation there with poverty and income. However, the correlation with race and ethnicity isn’t always as clear, with one one glaring exception and I’m going to come back to in a second. But if you look at the correlation between affordability problems and, say, the percent Black population in a community. There’s a strong correlation there until you control for income and then the correlation goes away. So we’re really telling an income story much more than a directly a racial story. Now, of course, the distribution of income by race and ethnicity in this country is not random, Right? That’s that comes from something, right? There’s there are legacies of racism and institutions and so on that have led to those inequalities. But really, after controlling for income, we don’t see a huge correlation between race and race ethnicity on one side and affordability on the other. I mentioned there is one exception. The exception is American Indians. So tribal communities have very poor on average now, have very poor water quality, often have little or no access to sewer services at all, and the prices tend to be very, very high. So you have the worst affordability problems that do strike a racial minority in that case. And we can clearly identify it and we can clearly identify the causes. So that’s kind of the one great exception. And and I don’t want to discount it at all because it’s a huge issue and it’s a huge exception. The other parts of the country, though, you know, it’s the the racial disparities that we see in affordability are usually a function of income and geography. They’re not specifically about race except to the extent that the income and geography is itself embedded in kind of a racial past or some of these areas on the urban fringes, particularly in parts of the south, in the southwest, where these minority communities sort of deliberately excluded from access to water and sewer systems. So that’s very much a legacy of racism that’s playing out and it’s expressed in terms of income and resources today. You know, we don’t explicitly have rules anymore that say, oh, Black folks can’t have sewer systems, but we used to have those rules and the sewer systems are still there. So that that’s that’s how race sort of fits into this picture. The one other way I’ll say race fits into this picture and is a good segue segway to one of my favorite most important issues is that the single most important thing that drives affordability for water in America is not the price that people pay for their monthly bill. It’s the quality of the water. Because it doesn’t matter if your bill is really low, if the service that you get is poor, if what’s coming out of the tap is not safe or not reliable. And if you’ve got sewer overflows in your basement every month, every time it rains hard, it doesn’t matter if your bill is low. Right. You don’t have affordable water. If you’ve got a sewer back up on your street, you don’t have affordable water. If what comes out of your tap is not trustworthy. And so that is definitely one place where we do see racial and ethnic patterns in the data. Communities that have a that are both poor and significantly nonwhite are more likely to have drinking water quality problems. And that is one huge reason why we see much higher bottled water consumption in Black and especially Hispanic communities in this country. So on one hand, you know, we’re worried about water bills going up from maybe 80 or $90 a month to 100, $120 a month. Meanwhile, you’ve got families spending 100 to $200 a month on cases of bottled water from Costco or Walmart or whatnot. Well, that’s your affordability problem. You know, if someone can’t trust what comes out of the tap, then that person is going to go buy bottles of water that cost 200 times more than what they could get out of the tap for a penny a gallon.

Taylor [00:18:42] A lot of the things that you mentioned were also mentioned in this report called the Low Income Water Customer Assistance Program Assessment Study, which you co-prepared. So can you tell us a little bit more about what that assessment was?

Teodoro [00:18:59] Sure. So that study was funded by what I like to call the alphabet soup of national Water Organizations. There are two big organizations that represent the nation’s sewer systems. They’re called NACWA, which stands for National Association of Clean Water Agencies, and WEF which is the Water Environment Foundation. And then there were three big water drinking water organizations, the American Water Association, the American Metropolitan, or the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies and the National Association of Water Companies. That’s a lot of national organizations. But you put them, they all came together. And they could see that the LIWAP program that we were discussing earlier was set to expire. It was set to sunset at the end of 2023. As I said, it was an emergency COVID era program. And these organizations were interested in a permanent federal program, something that would live on like LIHEAP but it would just be an ongoing national program. And so they they engaged me and a group of other experts to develop a study. To do two big things. Number one was just to characterize the scope of the affordability challenge. How big a problem is this? Number one, surprisingly, no one had ever really done that before. Number two was to evaluate potential program designs for a permanent ongoing program.

Taylor [00:20:32] With LIWAP ending. Can you tell us a little bit more about the permanent federal low income assistant programs that you mentioned in the report?

Teodoro [00:20:44] Sure. Well, we looked at five basic models. One would be to extend and expand the existing LIWAP program. So one would be to take LIWAP and make it permanent, We call it LIWAP 2.0. That program is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services. I mentioned earlier that that program was sort of copy pasted from LIHEAP. The reason HHS got this program is that they already ran LIHEAP. So Congress and the kind of advocates who are pushing this program said, well, we’ve got LIHEAP for energy. Let’s just take that program and move it to water. So we’ll put it in HHS. Well, one of the issues that came up pretty quickly was that nobody in HHS had ever worked with the water sewer system before. So a lot of what happened in the first year of LIWAP was just people at HHS trying to figure out what a water system is and what a sewer system is. So anyway, one program was to take that system and kind of extend it. There are two other basic frameworks then one was to create a new federal program at EPA Environmental Protection Agency. Now, the great advantage of that would be that EPA works with water systems all the time. EPA has the institutional memory and capacity to work with water and sewer systems. They really know how they work. They’ve got long and deep relationships in the water sector. That’s all the good part. The bad part is EPA’s never run any kind of human services program before, and running an anti-poverty program is not easy. So what HHS had was lots of experience running anti-poverty programs, no experience at all with water. What EPA has lots of experience with water. No experience at all or capacity at all for for human services. But we looked at three different options for what an EPA housed program would look like, one that would work directly with utilities, one that would work through community organizations, and one that would maybe do a little bit of both. The last option we looked at was expanding SNAP. That’s the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps. That’s a direct to consumer product. So this is for folks who are familiar with SNAP. It goes by different names in different states, but it’s basically a program. It’s the old Food Stamps program brought to the present day. People get an and a debit type card that’s loaded with funds. And the idea with SNAP, what we call SNAP H2O, is that people could simply take their SNAP card and use it to pay for their water and sewer bill. So, you know, right now it turns out that Americans who on SNAP spend probably somewhere around $2 billion a year on water, but they’re spending it on bottled water because you can buy bottled water when you’re SNAP benefit, but you can’t pay your water bill. So we thought that was fundamentally a perverse setup. And one other one alternative is to really empower the customer. One of the great things about SNAP for all of its problems, one of the great things about SNAP is it really does empower the consumer to make his or her own choices. And to me, that was and I also always speak for myself here, not the rest of the team necessarily, but to me, one of the great merits of SNAP as a way to address water affordability is it allows individual households to make their own financial decisions and to sort of control their own financial destiny. One of the things I like to say is one key difference between poor people and middle class people, and that’s the poor people don’t have as much money. So that’s that’s the difference, right? And so one of the great merits of the SNAP approach, as opposed to the others, every one of those other approaches is very prescriptive. And again, my word, not the rest of the team, a bit paternalistic. It sort of suggests, hey, we the government, know best how to use these assistance funds. So we’re going to decide how much assistance you need and we’re going to give you just exactly that much and we’re going to tell you exactly how you can spend it, because we’re not going to give you the money. We’re going to send it to the utility and let the utility decide if you decide if you deserve it. Well, SNAP takes a fundamentally different approach. SNAP says we’re going to give the resource to the customer and allow the consumers to make their own decisions, be responsible adults, which is exactly what they are, and then let the recipients decide how best to allocate their funds. Now, certain utilities don’t like that model because they don’t get the money, so the consumer gets the money. But, you know, the other great thing about SNAP is the administrative costs of SNAP are far, far lower than any of these other programs. SNAP is a very efficient program compared to most things that the government does to fight poverty. And from the utilities perspective, you know, earlier I was saying one of the reasons LIWAP struggled is that you need to have a pretty big utility staff to run it. You don’t need hardly any utility staff at all to run SNAP. You just need to be set up to accept an EBT card. If you can accept an EBT card. You can run SNAP. The last thing I’ll say about SNAP is that most low income folks, especially in urban areas, do not own their homes and they do not pay the water bill directly. They pay for water, but they pay for it through their rent or they pay for it through like an HOA fee or something like this. So they do pay for water, but they would never get any benefit at all from LIWAP or any other any other utility based program because they don’t pay a bill. So if you are a renter in a big apartment building, yes, you’re paying for your water, but you’re paying for a three year lease. If you went with a SNAP type program. That customer, if he or she is on SNAP, can use the SNAP benefits not to pay for their rent, but to pay for other things. They can pay for other kinds of food items, and that will help their overall budget and therefore help them pay for the water that’s embedded in their rents. So, you know, I’m being quite plain about this. Of these five alternatives that we looked at and we looked at them long and hard and analyzed them carefully. To me, there was a clear winner here, and I won’t speak for the rest of the team, but to me, the SNAP option was was the clear winner.

Taylor [00:27:04] So it sounds like the permanent water assistance program would definitely support water affordability. But would the program also, as you mentioned earlier, with water quality help with that as well?

Teodoro [00:27:17] With water quality, not necessarily. To address the water quality problems, you really have to go outside of an assistance program. What’s really required there is much, much more rigorous enforcement by environmental agencies. You know, one one of my I could tell this story about hundreds, maybe thousands of utilities across the country. But the most egregious, glaring example in recent history is Jackson, Mississippi. So I’m sure you’re aware, Jackson is the capital of the state of Mississippi, it’s a majority Black city, has a high poverty rate, a shrinking city. The population has shrunk since the late 1970s. You know, they were in the news because they had a catastrophic water and sewer system failure earlier this year and late last year. But that wasn’t the first time that had happened. Jackson, Mississippi, has been more or less in continuous violation of the Clean Water Act and or the Safe Drinking Water Act for more than 40 years. The city’s water utility has been in terrible shape, but officials at the state and federal level for the last 40 years have seen fit to ignore the problems of Jackson or allow Jackson to just limp along. And the government regulator will wave a finger and say, y’all should really fix that water system. But they’ve just allowed the system to continue to fail. It’s not a particularly partisan issue. It’s happened under Democratic governors and Republican governors and Democratic presidents and Republican presidents. They all found it easy to ignore the problems of Jackson because they’re poor and because they’re Black and because what else are they going to do? Addressing the water quality problems in poor minority communities is going to require demanding that they do better. And that’s going to mean systemic reforms that are politically very difficult to do. So it’s that’s really the challenge to get after the water quality problems. We need enforcement of environmental regulations and we need financially sustainable utilities. And that’s that’s frankly a much harder problem than an assistance program. An assistance program is hard. But making the systemic reforms to to create sustainable systems to serve poor minority communities, that’s a much, much harder challenge.

Taylor [00:29:54] So with the permanent water assistance program, what would be some strategies to ensure equity in the distribution of the program’s funds for those who have the most need? And you mentioned rural and tribal communities earlier. How would this program go about making sure it’s equitable?

Teodoro [00:30:15] Yeah, I mean, it’s a huge, important problem and it’s such an important question you ask. It’s going to require channeling resources to folks who don’t aren’t necessarily served by those big utilities. And I’ll come back to the five different models we looked at. The only one of the five models we looked at that’s going to work in small, rural, isolated or urban fringe communities is that SNAP option because it bypasses the utility entirely and it goes directly to the to the individual consumer. And compared to any other anti-poverty program we’ve got in the United States, with the exception, I guess, of Social Security and and I guess Medicaid, now we get higher participation in SNAP than just about anything else. And we get good participation in SNAP in rural areas, in places that would never, small towns, urban fringe communities that would never participate in a federal utility assistance program. We don’t need them to. We just need the low-income folks to participate and SNAP through their county agencies or their social service organizations, and then they’ll get the benefits. So to me that this is the best way to reach these folks in an equitable manner. Let’s not use the utilities as middlemen. Let’s get the benefits directly to the folks who need it. And I think we’ll get much greater reach there. And you look, the poor minority communities are often in rural areas. I think this is such an important point that gets lost sometimes in Wisconsin. I have to confess, I came here from Texas, but I lived here for about three years before that. I lived in Texas for seven years. When you talk to folks in Wisconsin, they think in general, the racial minority communities in the state live in cities. And that’s kind of accurate in Wisconsin as long as you ignore the tribal communities and a lot of agricultural workers. So if you ignore them, then that is kind of true. But if you live in other parts of the country, in Texas, the rural community is not necessarily predominantly white. It’s actually much more likely to be racial minority communities in the rural areas. And then especially if you move into sort of the Deep South states like Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana rural communities tend to be Black in those parts of the of the United States. If you go to parts of the American West or in Alaska, the rural communities tend to be nonwhite. So I think we have to make sure we disconnect the idea that poor rural means white, urban means nonwhite. Now, that is not the case, right? If you look around, that is a big, diverse country and a lot of the country and again, the most desperately poor places where the water quality and the sewer access are worse are actually poor nonwhite communities in rural areas. These are places that are not predominantly white. They’re full of racial and ethnic minority populations, but they’re also poor and they’re also isolated. They don’t have the kind of capacity to ever run a water assistance program, but they got SNAP. So you can reach those communities as long as you don’t rely on a utility organizational infrastructure to get to them.

Taylor [00:33:28] So finally, the last thing that I want to ask you and you already kind of talked about this was SNAP H2O, but what are some other types of future research or policies and practices that could help support water affordability and water equity in general?

Teodoro [00:33:45] Yes, I think the things that I’m working on right now that are most exciting on that front have to do with the overall quality of the water systems. As I as I mentioned earlier, my, my biggest, most important crusade here is to get people to understand that water quality and sustainability are affordability issues. And we pretend like there’s this tension between having a high quality water system and affordable water system. And I think that’s a completely false dichotomy. In order for any water system to be affordable, it has to be good. It has to be high quality. There can’t ever be a second of doubt that what comes out of that faucet is good, right? If if you have any doubt at all, you’re going to start spending way too much money on a bottle product that’s just going to make a rich person richer and it’s going to damage the environment. And I won’t go off about that. But my my point here is that the research I’m doing now is really focused on trying to improve those utilities overall so that people never need to buy bottled water so that that that the environmental quality that we get from a great sewer system, the tap water quality that we get, makes sure that ensures that everyone is safe and healthy. So I’m working on a number of projects right now aimed at that, and that’s looking at things like organizational structures, which kinds of organizations perform better than others. And Wisconsin’s a wonderful place to study this stuff because we are a data rich environment. Our state collects and keeps more data on water system performance than anywhere else in the country, which makes us a great place to study these kinds of questions and see which of these systems work well, which ones don’t, and how can we do more of the things that work well and do less of the things that that work poorly?

Taylor [00:35:27] Well, thank you so much, Manny. Thank you for providing your insight and knowledge about water equity and water affordability.

Teodoro [00:35:34] You’re welcome. It’s been delightful chatting with you. On Wisconsin.

Taylor [00:35:38] Thanks so much to Dr. Manny Teodoro of the La Follette School of Public Affairs. He joined us to talk about water equity, water affordability and the report that he co-prepared for the National Association of Clean Water Agencies. You can find a link to that report in the show notes for this episode. The production of this podcast was supported in part by funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. But its contents don’t necessarily represent the opinions or policies of that office. Any other agency of the Federal government or the Institute for Research on Poverty. Music for the episode is by 808xri. Thanks for listening.


Economic Support, Financial Security, Food & Nutrition, Food & Nutrition General, Health, Health General, Inequality & Mobility, Neighborhood Effects, Place, Racial/Ethnic Inequality


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