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
Can’t get enough of environmental finance blog posts and articles? Check out our list of blogs and newsletters that we’re following along as well. Ranging from local government finance strategies to water and sanitation for health issues, these are just a few of our favorites:
Stormwater incentive programs are a creative tool used by some towns and cities to encourage community participation in stormwater management practices. Many of the incentive programs encourage citizens to install green stormwater infrastructure projects on their property. Stormwater ‘incentive’ programs can be found in municipalities across the United States and can take on a variety of formats; rebates, grants, cost sharing, and loans are some of the most popular methods. These programs usually offer incentives for both commercial and residential property owners, and they encourage projects like rain gardens, cisterns, rain barrels, green roofs, bioswales, permeable pavers, and native tree plantings.
Projects like this help improve the water quality of impacted water bodies by preventing pollutants from entering waterways and mitigating flooding problems in impacted areas. While the benefit of using these practices is substantial, offering financial incentives tends to boost interest from property owners to participate in such programs. Continue reading
For many small towns, websites are the main avenue of communication with residents. At the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, we use town websites to find contact information, water rates, and link towns around the United States to our resources, such as our water rates dashboards. The North Carolina Water Rates Dashboard is one of our most visited pages, and nearly three percent of the dashboard’s visitors in the past year have been directed here through the website of the town of Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Wilkesboro’s website is user-friendly and informative, making it a great resource for residents and visitors alike. Residents often rely on town websites for communication, public information, and access to helpful tools like our Rates Dashboards. Continue reading
The water industry is facing unprecedented capital needs, needs which will largely be recovered through increased rates. Sitting between public utilities and the public are governing boards trying to make the right decision for their community and the utility. What information do governing boards need to approve a water rate increase? What are the most effective methods of communicating the need for a rate increase?