May 9, 2023

PRC asks NM congressional delegation to support water legislation

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission sent letters to members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation requesting that they support efforts to ensure low-income households can access safe and affordable drinking water.

The letters specifically requested that they support continued funding for the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Parity Act.

The Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program, or LIHWAP, is a temporary COVID-era initiative that helps families pay their water and wastewater bills, but the program is set to end on June 30.

The PRC has asked the state’s congressional delegation to support efforts to fund the program through Fiscal Year 2024. 

According to a PRC press release, since the program began in 2021, LIHWAP has helped more than 430,000 households.

In New Mexico alone, residents received $9 million in fiscal year 2021. The maximum benefit was $1,500 and about 6,000 utility customers received assistance that year in New Mexico.

In the letter, the commissioners emphasized the need for clean and safe drinking water, which they wrote is “essential for every person’s daily living, sanitation and ability to function in the economy.”

“The lack of running water can render a home uninhabitable,” the letter states.

They further highlighted the challenges that inflation is causing for low-income families.

“Whatever one’s view of the program, now – while high inflation and rising interest rates persist – is not the time to let the program lapse. New Mexicans need access to this basic necessity,” the commissioners wrote.

A separate letter urged the state’s three members of the U.S. House of Representatives not only to support the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Parity Act, but also to sign on as cosponsors.

This act would allow privately-owned wastewater treatment plants to access low-interest loans that would subsidize projects. These loans are currently only available to publicly owned wastewater utilities.

According to the PRC, the proposed change would benefit about 6,000 New Mexico wastewater customers.