At Cleveland Water, we strive to ensure everyone in our community has access to safe drinking water and shares in the economic, social and environmental benefits of our system.
This is something we’ve been focusing on for some time. In fact, water equity is so important to us, we put it in our mission statement and have created values to support that mission.
But what exactly does water equity mean? Quite simply, it means that everyone has the opportunity to prosper. It occurs when all communities have access to safe, clean, affordable drinking water and wastewater services. These communities have the ability to face potential crises such as floods, drought, and other climate risks and persevere. And people are able to share in the economic, social, and environmental benefits of water systems.
Because we strongly believe all of our customers deserve to have safe, quality water that’s also affordable, we took multiple actions to make that happen. We implemented 0% rate increases for the past three years, bill the first 1,500 gallons of water each month at a discounted rate, and offer payment plans to help customers who are behind on payments.
We also transitioned to monthly billing, making it easier to efficiently budget, monitor water usage and detect water leaks quickly. This effort ultimately led to an overall decline in water disconnections.
In addition, we joined the US Water Alliance Water Equity Taskforce -- a network of six cities that work together to build the organizational, policy, and partnership capacity of utilities, community organizations, and other stakeholders to bend the course of our water future to be more equitable.
We’re excited to be a part of the Cleveland Learning Team, made up of leadership from community foundations, government organizations, environmental groups, and others who are committed to water issues. One of the main strategies our team will focus on is creating comprehensive approaches to addressing affordability. Upcoming initiatives will focus on boosting enrollment in affordability programs, reviewing eligibility criteria for those programs, and holding listening sessions with residents.
We have always recognized the importance of affordability initiatives. In fact, we offer two programs, Homestead and Water Affordability, which reduce rates for ratepayers who qualify based on income, age, and/or disability.
We hope to work towards making water management more equitable, ultimately contributing to economic, health, and social benefits to drive long-term growth for our customers.