Category: Drinking Water & Wastewater (page 1 of 34)

Using Utility-Level Data to Study the Affordability of Water Rates

The affordability of water and wastewater rates is an issue attracting more attention than ever.

In particular, “A Burgeoning Crisis? A Nationwide Assessment of the Geography of Water Affordability in United States”—a recent paper from Michigan State University— has generated a great deal of debate and dialogue about the issue. The paper is worth reading for yourself, but the primary conclusion is that over the next five years, at least 35.6% of the U.S. population will have combined water and wastewater bills greater than 4.5% of their community’s median household income. One aspect of the paper that stood out to us here at the EFC was the numerator in that calculation—i.e. the combined bill.

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How Two Private Water Companies are Changing New York Water Affordability

The New York Public Service Commission entered an Order Adopting Low Income Modifications in May 2016, which applied to commission-regulated gas and electric utilities in New York. The Commission established within the Order a robust regulatory policy framework for addressing low-income electric and gas customer needs. Despite this major advancement in addressing affordability issues for regulated energy utilities, private water utilities in New York have yet to implement large-scale, low-income water customer assistance programs (CAPs)—but this appears to be changing.

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‘Tis the Seasonal Rates: A Quick Look at Seasonal Rates Across Six States

During my first year at the Environmental Finance Center (EFC) I have worked on water and wastewater rate surveys in Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Arizona, Hawaii, and Connecticut. While uniform, block, and tiered rate structures are commonly used by water and wastewater utilities, seasonal uniform rate structures are rarely implemented.

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Envisioning the Future of Water: Three Lessons Learned from One City

In March, the UNC Institute for the Environment hosted the Clean Tech Summit, a multi-day event in which students and professionals  convene and foster leadership and discussion among the Southeast’s clean tech industry. Many summit panels incorporated and focused on the topic of water management in all its forms: drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater.

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Conserving Water through Smart Growth and Density

Smart Growth programs—developing urban areas with a variety of building types and land uses in a concentrated space—are touted for their potential to spur economic development through the creation of more attractive, environmentally sustainable, and walkable communities. One underlying theme is that increased urban density allows people to access a variety of shops, housing options, and recreational areas without having to hop in their cars. The most commonly cited potential benefits of smart growth include improved public health, higher air quality due to reduced vehicle traffic, more efficient use of land, protection of valued natural or open spaces from sprawl, increased property values because of high demand, and often greater community involvement in the development process.

A recent post on the School of Government’s Community and Economic Development blog outlined some examples of Smart Growth programs here in North Carolina, and Glenn Barnes earlier wrote about five ‘tools’ included in the EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program. This post examines what I think is a sometimes overlooked benefit of Smart Growth and higher densities: water conservation.

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