A person washing a pan in the kitchen sink. Photo by Cooker King on Unsplash.

Photo by Cooker King on Unsplash.


Water is life.

However, here in Washington State, thousands of Washingtonians are facing the potential shutdown of their water services. According to the Washington Association of Sewer and Water Districts, there has been a 196% increase in the number of households with outstanding water and sewer balances and 6,480 households may have their service disconnected once the moratorium is lifted in Washington. Based on a report from the Association of Washington Cities, the total amount of money owed since the pandemic began is $15.7 million.

This is a crisis, one that Byrd Barr Place is committed to addressing. Through a partnership with the Department of Commerce, the new Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) assists households whose incomes are at or below 150% the federal poverty level. For these households, water and utility costs take up a much higher proportion of their incomes, putting them at a higher risk for water disconnection. The goal of the program is to help Washingtonians with low incomes maintain affordable, dependable utility services and avoid shut off.

This application cycle, initiated in January 2022 and running through September 2023, has already begun to have a measurable impact in our communities. So far, Byrd Barr Place’s LIHWAP has helped 40 households, distributing $43,000 in grant assistance.

We encourage members of our community to apply, and everyone to spread the word! The program serves households who qualify for our Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and who have been disconnected or are in imminent threat of disconnection. Clients must have an active Seattle Public Utilities account to apply for financial assistance with drinking water and/or wastewater services. Eligible clients can receive up to $2,500 in a one-time grant depending on the amount owed on the account.

Applications can be submitted online through our secure online application. All information is confidential and only used to determine eligibility. We will also accept applications by email, mail, or drop-off at our temporary food bank location at 420 E. Pike Street during our hours: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 9 am to 4 pm and Thursday 9 am to 3 pm. (Our temporary food bank location will be closed July 21 to Aug. 9, while we move back to our firehouse home at 722 18th Ave. So if dropping off in person, do so before July 21.) The last day to submit a LIHWAP application online, email, or mail is Aug. 12, 2022.

Everyone deserves access to clean drinking water and consistent wastewater services. We are honored to help our community members maintain access to these essential services and confront the water crisis facing our communities.