EPA updates financial capability assessment for water services in disadvantaged communities

September 16, 2020

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on September 15 its proposed 2020 Financial Capability Assessment (FCA) for the Clean Water Act, which will help communities plan for water infrastructure improvements.

Through the 2020 FCA, the EPA is seeking to support water utilities that serve economically disadvantaged communities and provide vital clean water services that support public health, the environment, and local economies. This is the first time in more than 20 years this document has been updated.

Groundwater-supplied community water systems serving 3300 or fewer people comprise two-thirds of all community water systems serving 25 or more people.

The 2020 FCA proposal explores how customers’ ability to pay for service impacts planning for capital expenditures, and operation and maintenance needed to support Clean Water Act compliance. This guidance is used to evaluate the financial capability of a community when developing a schedule (i.e., plan) for water infrastructure improvements. The EPA’s proposed FCA 2020 guidance includes new metrics to inform a community’s implementation schedule, including indicators that more accurately reflect how much low-income communities can afford to pay for water infrastructure upgrades.

When finalized, the 2020 FCA will support negotiations of schedules for implementing Clean Water Act requirements for municipalities and local authorities. Upon publication in the Federal Register, the EPA will accept comment for 30 days via the Federal eRulemaking portal at www.regulations.gov, referencing Docket ID No. EPA–HQ– OW–2020–0426.