Author: Evan Kirk (Page 1 of 2)

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Setting Rates During COVID-19: Florida Rate Survey Shows Utilities are Looking for Answers in the Experience of Others

Guest Post By Nicholas Smith of Raftelis

A new fiscal year typically means new water and wastewater rates for utilities in Florida. Florida utilities have long relied upon small and predictable annual rate increases to ensure their rates are sufficient to cover the cost to serve their customers. In setting rates, Florida utilities have always depended on careful financial analysis. Although COVID-19 has complicated this norm — Florida utilities can still proceed with rate changes, but it is best to proceed with some enhanced strategy. With universally high unemployment rates and utility governing bodies more concerned about affordability than ever, research by Raftelis shows utilities are moving ahead with rate increases, but they are looking for more data than before to support their decisions.

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Stormwater Utility Fees in North Carolina: Fiscal Year 2020

The Environmental Finance Center has completed the 2020 North Carolina Stormwater Fee Survey. The survey includes 93 stormwater fee structures effective July 1, 2019There are 6 utilities in this year’s survey that were not in last year’s survey.  Additionally, there is one fee structure that is not included this year as the city of New Bern dissolved their stormwater fee after the 2019 fiscal year.  

The Residential Stormwater Utility Fee Dashboard has been updated! Use the comparison groups on the left side of the Dashboard to compare stormwater fees by region, by NPDES MS4 permit designation, and by similar population.  You can also download our tables of stormwater fees and fee structures to analyze stormwater fees for residential, non-residential, and multifamily customers.  Continue reading

Go Straight to the Source: 2018 Farm Bill Funding for Water Supply Watershed Protection

On August 29, the EFC lead a webinar on finance and governance models for watershed management as part of the Environmental Finance Network Smart Management for Small Water Systems program.  The webinar focused on source water protection as an effective way to protect public health and avoid the costs associated with contaminated drinking water.  The webinar sought to answer three separate questions:

  1. What is watershed management?
  2. How do small water systems (under EPA guidelines, those serving under 10,000 people) benefit from watershed management?
  3. How can small systems participate in watershed management?

The answers to the first two questions are somewhat straight forward; watershed management is any strategy or set of strategies that positively influences land characteristics in a drainage area, and small systems benefit by avoiding costs; both monetary and abstract.

However, the answer to the third question is a bit more difficult. Small systems face unique challenges with respect to watershed management for the protection of drinking water; they often rely on purchased water, they have limited technical and financial resources, and they have limited ability to impact land use in the entirety of their water supply watershed.  Watershed boundaries often cross jurisdictional boundaries, so the land use decision made by a neighboring government often heavily impacts the quality of the small system’s source water.  This makes partnership extremely important.  Small systems can partner with neighboring jurisdictions, enter into a shared source partnership, or collaborate with nonprofit conservation groups in order to have a greater impact on the quality of their source water. Continue reading

Stormwater Utility Fees in North Carolina: Now and Then

On March 11, 2019, the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (EFC) will host a free, interactive webinar on the current state of stormwater fees and finance in North Carolina. In addition to a brief trend analysis to show how stormwater fees have changed in the state since 2010, the webinar will include an update on the recently released Table of Stormwater Fees and Fee Structures in North Carolina for the 2018-19 Fiscal Year and a demonstration of the upcoming 2019 North Carolina Stormwater Rates Dashboard. You can sign up for the webinar here.

If you’re new to the world of stormwater, you may be interested in reading our NC stormwater fees survey update blog from last year. In it you will find a more in-depth explanation of some of the terminology used in this blog. Read on for a preview of what will be discussed in our upcoming webinar: Continue reading

Capacity and Environmental Services

Evan Kirk is a fellow in the 2018 Leaders in Environment and Finance (LEAF) program. As part of the LEAF Fellowship, Evan worked with Envirolink over the summer of 2018. Evan’s work with Envirolink relied on using information gathering and data communication to improve Envirolink’s managerial capacity survey. This survey assesses and scores a wide variety of utility managerial, financial, and policy performance metrics.

Capacity, as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, includes technical, managerial, and financial capabilities, also known as TMF capacity. Systems with sufficient TMF capacity can safely and consistently provide drinking water and wastewater services to their customers and are far less likely to receive notices of violation (NOVs) for non-compliance than systems with insufficient capacity. Conversely, systems that are struggling to develop or maintain capacity may be at an increased risk for operational problems such as non-compliance violations. One option for these struggling systems is to contract with companies like Envirolink for excess technical, managerial, and financial capacity.

Envirolink is a full-service utility management company that specializes in providing water, wastewater, and public works services to both public and private clients across the Carolinas. One component of Envirolink’s business model is lending excess capacity to systems in two major ways: first, through the operation and maintenance of physical assets, and second, through the provision of managerial and financial consulting services. Continue reading

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