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A temporary Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) created by Congress in last December’s COVID-19 response legislation will begin to distribute funding to states by the end of May, staff from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) told water sector stakeholders in a webinar last week. The news came as HHS has set a deadline of Tuesday, April 27 for interested parties to complete a survey that will help inform the operation of the program.

HHS staff provided a number of other updates and clarifications on LIHWAP implementation during last week’s webinar, such as prioritizing maintaining continuity of service to at-risk customers and not using program funds for in-home plumbing repairs. Once funding is delivered to states next month, each state will be responsible for parceling it out to water systems to cover arrearages and bill payments of low-income households that pay a high proportion of income for water and wastewater service. The slide deck from last week’s webinar is available online.

HHS plans to continue to provide updates about LIHWAP implementation through the program’s website. The department is also encouraging water utility officials and other stakeholders to complete the survey before the April 27 deadline, so all perspectives about crafting a functional and effective program can be taken into account.