Category: General Information (page 1 of 22)

Financial Resiliency and Future Plans

What could make the difference between a utility making it through an event like Hurricane Florence with relatively few impacts, and one that has major, lasting problems?

Imagine two utilities, just over the county line from one another, with the same assets that are exactly the same age, located at the same elevations. Will their ability to provide service after a storm be exactly the same? What type of things might they do before the storm hits to improve the outcome? Continue reading

Growing Economies and Shrinking Coastlines: Financing Wider Beaches

As of 2014, NOAA estimated that about 40 percent of the US population lives in a county on the coast and these coastal counties are responsible for 56 million jobs. As a nation, we have developed heavily along the coastlines, building large and valuable assets on property that may erode. As communities along the southeastern coastline have experienced and can likely attest to, there are very few viable options for slowing coastal erosion that do not either cause more erosion downdrift or damage to coastal ecosystems. To date, most communities have found beach nourishment to be the most viable option. So what is beach nourishment and how do we pay for it? Read on for answers to these questions and more: Continue reading

Partnerships and Regionalization—A Real Life Situation

Did you know there are over 250 publicly owned small water systems serving less than 1,000 connections in North Carolina? In the case of water and wastewater utilities, bigger can often mean better.

The Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was asked earlier this year to take the lead on a wastewater regionalization study for a small town of 700 people in Western North Carolina. The Town (which will remain anonymous as the study is still in progress) had been awarded a regionalization grant from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Infrastructure (DWI) to study alternatives to their existing wastewater business model. Continue reading

Water as a Service

Co-authored by Ashley Bleggi

At a recent conference, we asked utility managers and operators to tell us about their everyday communication challenges. Again and again, we heard that communicating with customers about the value of the service their utility provides was difficult, because too often, customers think about water as a good rather than a service. Customers see water all around them (even falling from the sky!), so it can be difficult for them to fully grasp the water cycle and all that goes into providing clean, safe, and reliable drinking water. To help overcome this challenge, we’ve put together some language to help utilities frame the value of the service that they provide in a simple (yet efficient) way.

Read on to see strategies and example language that your utility can use to communicate with the average customer who may not yet understand what they’re paying for through their water bill: Continue reading

2018 System Development Fee Law Changes

Guest  post by Kara Millonzi

This post was originally published to the School of Government’s Coates’ Canons Blog on June 26, 2018.

In the 2017 legislative session, the General Assembly specifically authorized all local government utility providers to charge upfront fees for water and wastewater services. The legislation, however, limited the types of upfront charges that could be assessed on new development within the unit’s territorial boundaries. A prior post summarized the new law and detailed the new procedural requirements for adopting upfront water or wastewater charges. This post details changes the legislature made to the law during the 2018 legislative session. These changes do not address all of the ambiguities in the SDF law but do clarify certain aspects of calculating, collecting, and administering the fees. Continue reading

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