Water Affordability Dashboard


Learn more at our Water Affordability website

Disclaimer: All data and analysis are provisional. Please allow the dashboard to fully load. Dashboard performs best on a desktop.

Explore water services (drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater) to learn about the cost of services and affordability for single family residential households. To learn about the data, the dashboard, and any frequently asked questions, please visit: about the dashboard. You can watch videos on how to use the dashboard from our YouTube Playlist.

To get started, select a utility by clicking on the map or by using the drop down menu on the right (Select a Utility). The map and drop-down menu can be filtered by selecting a state, utility size, or owner type. You can also type in an address to find your utility in the search bar on the map.
Next, scroll down to learn about the affordability of water services for your utility how much water was used in a month (Select Monthly Water Usage). You can click on other tabs to learn about your rates, who lives in your utility, and how affordability changes for different amounts of water used.

Click here to learn about the map
Zoom in to see utilities

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Hover over utilities to see how many block groups share the same burden level in a utility.

Filter map and select a utility

Select State:

Select Utility Size:

Select Owner Type:

Select Monthly Usage: 4,000 gallons
            (~535 cubic feet)

What volume should I use?

Select Utility:

No utility provider has been found or selected.

Quick Guide to Affordability Metrics

Minimum Wage (Labor) Hours: Number of hours worked at minimum wage to pay for water services.
Traditional: Percent of median income within a service area used to pay for water services.
Household Burden: Percent of low-income (20th percentile) household income within a service area used to pay for water service.
Poverty Prevalence: Percent of households in a service area with an income lower than the 200% of the federal poverty level.

You selected the following utilities:

State: All States

Utility Size: All Sizes

Owner: All Owner Types

Volume: 4,000 gallons

Percent of data to show in line charts:  

Maximum number of utilities shown in line charts is 800.

As we add more data to the dashboard it takes more time to display. We allow you to select a smaller amount of data shown in the map (randomly selected) to be drawn in line plots to increase the speed. We cap the amount of data drawn at 800 utilities. All data will continue to be shown in boxplots and scatter charts.

What do you want to learn about affordability?

Affordability Burden

Income Dedicated to Water Service

Compare Metrics

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Exploring affordability metrics

Explore four affordability metrics below: Minimum Wage Hours, Traditional (median income), Household Burden (20th percentile). The utility you selected above will be shown as a large blue circle on the boxplot. The small gray dots are the metric scores for the utilities selected above.


Household Affordability: Minimum Wage Hours is concerned about the ability of a household earning minimum wage to be able to pay for water services.


Community Financial Capability: These three metrics are concerned about the ability of different populations within the utility to pay for water services. The Traditional metric looks at the affordability for the representative median income household while the Household Burden looks at the representative low-income household. The Poverty Prevalence metric looks at the financial capacity of the community to pay for services by considering how many are below 200% of the federal poverty level.

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Affordability Burden

In 2019, a report recommended combining two metrics to capture the financial burden of water services on single family households in a utility (Household Burden) and the prevalence of poverty in the community (Poverty Prevalence). We used the recommended thresholds for Poverty Prevalence and adopted days of labor for the HB. A day of labor is roughly equivalent to 4.6% of the income earned in a month.


Select Chart Legend:  

Summary of Utilities by Burden Level

How does burden change with water use?

Select a utility to see the plot

Hide Income-Based Charts

Income Dedicated to Water Services

The metric shows how many households share a similar financial burden based on the percent of the households income used to pay for water services. In a single month, each 4.6% of income represents roughly a day of labor. This metric allows utilities to see the breadth of affordability challenges given estimated water bills and the distribution of household incomes in the service area.


    Select to see a table based on census income brackets
(a utility must be selected)

Monthly Bill for Water Services

The monthly water services bill includes how much a household would pay each month for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater services for the volume of water selected above. To learn more about how we estimate the monthly bill visit our methods page and scroll down to "How do we estimate monthly water bills?".

Utilities providing services to estimate monthly bills

Rates may differ from what is currently on website and/or the website link no longer exists.
Homeowners refers to on-lot sites or private septic tanks. This bill is estimated at ~$33 per month.
There may be multiple wastewater or stormwater utilities providing services within a drinking water utility service area.

Explore Rate Structures for Water and Wastewater

Rate structures can vary considerably between utilities. Water bills typically include some or all of the following components: a fixed charge, a charge based on how much water is used, and surcharges. These components are added together to estimate a monthly bill based on the volume of water selected above. Select whether you would like to compare bill components for drinking water or wastewater services. The left chart provides how much each thousand gallons of water costs (usage charge only). The right chart shows how much of the monthly bill comes from fixed charges, usage charges, and surcharges.

What type of bill do you want to explore?

All utilities are shown.

Social and economic characteristics in my service area

The gray lines in each chart show the utilities selected from the options to the right of the map (state, size, and ownership). If a utility is selected in the map or drop-down menu, the utility will be highlighted in the plot and the chart title will change to describe the selected utility. You can explore how population and unemployment have changed over time, the composition of age, race, and income within the service area, and the age of housing infrastructure. These community characteristics provide some context of who lives in the service area and their potential to afford services.


Is population growing, shrinking, or stable?

What percentage of customers are within working age?

What is the racial and ethnic composition?

What is the household income distribution?

How has unemployment changed over time?

How has COVID-19 affected unemployment?

When were houses built (infrastructure age)?

Summary of affordability metrics by volume of water used and currently recommended guidelines

Why is water volume important?

The volume of "reasonable" water use for "essential" purposes for a single person is assumed to be 50 gallons per day (1,500 gallons per month). However, more water is often used in the U.S. The amount of water "reasonable" for "essential" purposes depends on how many people live in a household. This chart shows how much water use can vary per household based on the number of people and volume of water each person uses.

Percent of utilities by burden level

This chart summarizes the percent of utilities by burden level given selections in the map above by combining HB and PP indicators. Visit our about affordability metrics tab for more details.

Percent of utilities by days worked at minimum wage

This chart summarizes the percent of utilities by the number of hours (assuming 8 hour work day) a minimum wage worker must spend to pay water bills each month.

Percent of utilities by poverty level

This chart summarizes the percent of utilities by the proportion of their community living below 200% of the federal poverty level (nothing to do with rates and doesn't change based on usage).

Median-income household revenue going to water services

This chart summarizes percent of a median household's (50th percent) income that is spent on water services. We provide this information in terms of the number of work days spent to pay for services with one work day representing 4.6% of monthly income.

Low-income household revenue going to water services

This chart summarizes percent of a low-income household's (20th percent) revenues that are spent on water services. We provide this information in terms of the number of work days spent to pay for services with one work day representing 4.6% of monthly income.

Data and Code

All data and code are provided at the Nicholas Institute's Water Affordability Github repository under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Return to the Water Affordability website.


Analysis and Dashboard developed by

Improved Map Performance provided by

Funding provided by