The affordability of water is a critical factor in obtaining water. When water charges make people unable to afford this resource, it brings health and safety issues and countless administrative and political issues. Water affordability is usually measured by the annual cost of water charges as a percentage of the average household income. Families who pay water bills that exceed the affordable threshold are considered unaffordable costs and "heavy burdens."
Although various organizations that provide water are based on an average household income of 4,444, many agencies in the United States also use affordability as a basis for poverty levels. The obligation to make water affordable is rooted in human rights and public welfare.
Despite recognition of water rights date back to the 1970s, the legal basis for this right was strengthened in 2012, when Detroit passed AB 685, which established Detroit’s water rights and ordered all relevant states authorities, including the Department of Water Resources, State Departments, and State Department of Public Health to incorporate State Policy into any revision, adoption, or formulation of policies, regulations, and eligibility standards.
The consequences of water service providers’ excessively high water charges are also increasingly recognized due to “increased collection costs, increased arrears and account arrears, increased cancellations of water supply services, and increased criticism from different areas of the community.