Public Radio from UA Little Rock
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Arkansas expanding low-income water bill assistance program

Daniel Breen
Tad Bohannon, CEO of Central Arkansas Water, speaks in a news conference at the utility's downtown Little Rock headquarters on Thursday, March 16, 2023.

The State of Arkansas is expanding a program to help low-income residents pay their water bills.

The $10 million expansion of the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program, or LIHWAP, is now available to water customers across the region.

In a news conference Thursday, Central Arkansas Water CEO Tad Bohannon said eligible households could get a year’s worth of water bills paid by the state.

“We understand that there are many in our community who need help, now even more than ever before. And that’s why we’re thrilled to hear of the state’s expansion of this program,” Bohannon said. “The state’s expansion of LIHWAP now allows any household who meets the federal-defined low-income guidelines to qualify for up to $2,000 in a credit on their water and wastewater bills.”

Bohannon says customers can also get up to $2,000 more for assistance paying future water bills. The amount of funding is determined by a formula, which considers factors like household size and annual billing amount when determining how much assistance is given out.

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. welcomed the news, saying it would help boost quality of life and health outcomes among residents of the city.

“There are many of us that have grown up and have been a paycheck away from bankruptcy. We’ve been a paycheck away from our lights being off, our water being cut off. We’ve experienced those cutoff notices, and sometimes it could’ve been as small as $30… and so when you think about up to $2,000, how many lives can be changed to increase their health and wellbeing,” Scott said.

Arkansans who receive public assistance from other programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are automatically eligible for the program. The federal government on Thursday also announced a nearly $1.6 billion expansion of LIHEAP, with Arkansas slated to receive about $56.6 million.

Central Arkansas Water customers can check their eligibility online, while Arkansans who already know their eligibility status can apply directly through a state-run website.

Daniel Breen is a Little Rock-based reporter, anchor and producer for KUAR.