The North Carolina Water and Wastewater Rates Dashboard was updated with 2021 data and the 2021 North Carolina Water and Wastewater Rates Report was published. Check them out today and join us for our June 15 webinar.
We are thankful for another year of partnership with the North Carolina League of Municipalities and for the on-going funding support from the North Carolina Division of Water Infrastructure.
The 2021 North Carolina Water and Wastewater Rates Dashboard was deployed in February 2021. The Dashboard is up to date for rates as of January 1, 2021. The Rates Dashboard provides an up-to-date look at rates and financial sustainability indicators for utilities around the state.
Over the past 6 months*, the EFC has continued to investigate how utilities across NC are faring as the ongoing pandemic continues to create a variety of challenges related to revenue and operations. The big picture takeaway is that some things are improving while some things remain the same. Many utilities continue to feel a variety of impacts from COVID-19 on utility revenues and practices, some utilities are transitioning to pre-pandemic billing practices, and some utilities will be providing funds for bill payment assistance to customers who have past due bills.
This week, the EFC is releasing a report, funded by the NC Policy Collaboratory, that details some of the on-going impacts on water and wastewater utilities that have resulted from COVID-19 and the implementation of NC’s Executive Orders 124/142, which prohibited disconnection of residential customers and mandated the establishment of payment plans. As part of its research, the EFC interviewed staff from 16 different utilities and collected survey responses from a total of 34 utilities between August and December 2020. This research included utilities across the state that varied in size from 42-300,000 accounts and which had a wide variety of financial health characteristics.
Written by: Ryan Vulpis
In the state of North Carolina, many stormwater programs are required by the US EPA to maintain a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit. This permit is designed to ensure that jurisdictions protect water quality within its jurisdiction by meeting six minimum control measures (MCM).
In 2019, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ) began auditing MS4 permit holders according to a 5-year audit schedule, intending to audit 20 percent of the State’s permit holders on an annual basis. NC DEQ plans to audit permittees within the state on a five-year cycle to ensure continued compliance. The three possible outcomes of an audit are a notice of compliance (NOC), notice of deficiency (NOD), or notice of violation (NOV) depending on if an infraction is found and the nature of the infraction(s) found. NODs and NOVs serve to alert the permit holders of infractions and request that the infractions be rectified immediately . The EFC analyzed 29 audits completed by NC DEQ for trends in items of deficiency and non-compliance across stormwater programs. While two of the audited communities received notices of compliance, two communities received notices of deficiency and 25 communities received notices of violation. Continue reading
August has been a key transition month for local government utilities in North Carolina as EO 124/142 (which prohibited disconnections due to non-payment for residential utility accounts) has expired, payment plans are required to be in place, and Governor Cooper just announced $175 million in relief money, including $122 million for assistance in paying rent and utility bills.
How are water and wastewater utilities across the state faring under COVID-19 conditions? We’ve been keeping track here at the EFC and though the circumstances are constantly changing, we’ve been able to assess some of the impacts of COVID-19 on utilities during the last five months.
We have just released a report funded by Division of Water Infrastructure in the Department of Environmental Quality, outlining results from a poll, analysis of the EO 124/142 data that utilities reported to the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) for the full April through July period that covered the statewide moratorium, stories of individual utilities (blog post coming soon), and an overview of our financial resiliency tool. Continue reading
After droughts and in light of future concerns over water resources, the topic of conservation has risen in importance. While regional differences in supply concerns exist across the United States and even on a smaller scale, within states, there have been consistent pushes on a federal-level to move towards more efficient use without customer behavior change. Most research suggests that behavior change is “hard,” but by addressing use at the fixture, consumers can continue flushing and showering just as much and use less water.
In addition to this push towards more efficient appliances, the rise in the water and wastewater rates across the US and more specifically, in North Carolina, have put additional incentive on users to conserve, as they are continually sent a strong pricing signal. Weather and household size can also have profound impacts on water use, but the regionality of weather and general trend towards population growth across the country make it harder to assess the impact on total use. Despite all of the factors that impact total demand, federal and state leaders remain interested in how demand is changing over time and what that means for communities strapped for supply and communities struggling to bring in sufficient revenues to cover rising expenses. Continue reading