Category: Drinking Water & Wastewater (page 1 of 44)

Funding Program Spotlight: North Carolina Regionalization Feasibility Grant

Calling all North Carolina water and wastewater systems who are considering merging/regionalization or other state funding agencies that want to promote regionalization. The North Carolina Merger/Regionalization Feasibility Grant offers water and wastewater systems an opportunity to conduct a study to evaluate the merging of two or more systems. This program emerged from Session Law 2015-241 to help water and wastewater utilities explore pathways that can improve their finances and overall operating efficiency. Continue reading

Working Toward a Green School Partnership

On February 8, 2019, over sixty leaders and stakeholders from around North Carolina and the Triangle assembled to work towards facilitating a partnership for green schools in Wake County at the Green Schools Symposium. This event, hosted by the Environmental Finance Center (EFC) and funded by the Conservation Fund, saw representation from the public and private sectors, government agencies, and non-profits. Represented parties included but were not limited to:

  • The City of Raleigh
  • WakeUP Wake County
  • NC Conservation Network
  • North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality
  • Wake County Government
  • NC GreenPower
  • American Rivers
  • Wake County Public School System (WCPSS)

In fact, the green schools conversation has been happening for many years in Wake Countyand many of the innovators behind existing green school work in the area took time to attend the symposium. The day was intended to bring together representatives from parallel green school efforts occurring across the county, and to have one conversation that could include many voices.  Although the EFC did its best to reach as many of those individuals as possible, in the end, there were more registrants than the space and food could accommodate! The day included many meaningful connections, sparked enthusiasm and innovative ideas, and continued a conversation that will hopefully be continuing over the next few months to put in place some of the clear cut goals and outcomes discussed below… Continue reading

What We Can Learn from Consolidated Utilities

Post originally published by the US Water Alliance

Now is a time of growing uncertainty and change in the water sector. Meanwhile, there are tens of thousands of water utilities and authorities in the United States. Collaboration will be essential to securing our nation’s water future. As the adage goes, there’s strength in numbers.

Consolidating water utilities is one of many options communities may consider to pool resources, streamline decision-making, and increase efficiency. While complex, consolidation may be an appropriate consideration when the community value proposition outweighs costs. Leaders need access to more information about the financial effects of consolidating water utility service to assess their options.

To meet that need, the US Water Alliance and the UNC Environmental Finance Center are releasing a new report, Strengthening Utilities through Consolidation: The Financial Impact. This report synthesizes the existing body of evidence and presents eight case studies from communities who have consolidated utility service in different ways and contexts. Continue reading

The Perils of Comparing Water Rates

The Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducts surveys of water and sewer rates in many states across the country and turns those results into rates dashboards.  In recent years, at least three news outlets in Arizona, Illinois, and North Carolina have used data from these surveys in their stories showing that neighboring water systems often charge vastly different amounts for the same quantity of water.

In the Arizona story, News 4 Tucson interviews a local resident who doesn’t understand why he pays more for water at his system than he would if he were a customer at neighboring systems.

“Water is water to us,” said the customer to News 4 Tucson. “How is it possible that one water company can charge 70 percent more than another water company within a local geographical area?”

Is he right?  When it comes to price, is it true that water is water? Absolutely not.

Many customers incorrectly believe that the cost of providing a gallon of water is the same regardless of which water system provides it.  In reality, there are many factors that can influence the price of water and cause water rates to vary, sometimes significantly, even among neighboring systems. Continue reading

20 Students for 20 Years: Mary Tiger

A Series Celebrating 20 Years of Environmental Finance

In 2019, the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill celebrates its 20th anniversary. This milestone recognizes 20 years of excellence and even more dynamic, talented people. Throughout 2019, the EFC will publish 20 stories of exceptional student employees, projects, and impacts resulting in the inspiration that embodies who we are today and compels us to continue going further. Stories will be published biweekly at efc20.web.unc.edu.

Click here to sign up and receive each new story in your inbox.

The first feature in our series: Mary Tiger, UNC MPA ’09 alumnus and Sustainability Manager at the Orange Water and Sewer Authority:

Mary Tiger serves as the Sustainability Manager at the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA). She is a 2009 graduate of the UNC Master of Public Administration program, and worked as an EFC research assistant during her time as an MPA student from 2007 to 2009. Before starting the MPA program, Mary worked as a utility conservation coordinator for a Colorado water, wastewater, and power utility.

The Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was one of the biggest attractants to the UNC Master of Public Administration program for ’09 MPA alumnus Mary Tiger.

“The EFC was one of the reasons I came to UNC for my graduate program,” Mary said. “The UNC MPA program at that time didn’t have much of a specific focus on the environment, so being an EFC research assistant was an opportunity that really drove my decision to come to UNC.” Continue reading

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