Tag: Water Research Foundation (Page 2 of 5)

Trends in the Water Industry and Common Strategies to Mitigate and Master an Uncertain Future (Hint: You can’t do it alone!)

Mary Tiger is the Chief Operating Officer of the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina.

A few months ago a group of over 20 utility managers from some of the largest water utilities in the country convened in Denver, Colorado to discuss strategies that are working (and not working) to mitigate and master issues facing their individual utilities. Beyond having size in common, it was a diverse group, representing a spectrum of ownership and service models, as well as geographical and service characteristics.  As such, the impact of common trends in the industry (as projected in the Water Research Foundation report “Forecasting the Future: Progress, Change, and Predictions for the Water Sector”) varied greatly between them.   Continue reading

Trends in Operating Expenses Relative to Operating Revenues for Local Government-Owned Water Utilities

Shadi Eskaf is a Senior Project Director for the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Ratio of Operating Revenues to Operating Expenses for 62 Utilities Nationwide

Ratio of Operating Revenues to Operating Expenses for 62 Utilities Nationwide

A couple of months ago, we blogged that water utilities’ operating revenues are generally continuing to grow every year, but that there was a slowdown of revenue increases in recent years, particularly after 2008. At the same time, expenses are also rising. Does this mean that expenses have caught up to revenues and that the majority of utilities are now experiencing revenue shortfalls?

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Effective Utility Management


Guest author Catherine Noyes is an Associate Consultant at Raftelis Financial Consultants.

Through the 1960s, the utility business was all about protecting public health – making sure that technology was in place to ensure safe and reliable water and wastewater service to a growing population.  In the 1970s, the focus on public health was expanded to include the environment.  The EPA was established, and the federal government enacted legislation to protect clean air and water.  With this legislation came large federal grants, which funded expansions to the nation’s water and sewer infrastructure. Continue reading

WaterWise Dividend Model

Mary Tiger is the Chief Operating Officer of the Environmental Finance Center.


How would you like to get a check from your water utility instead of sending them one? This blog has included a few pricing alternatives that would better align a water utility’s objectives of full-cost pricing and conservation incentives. The PeakSet Base Model and the CustomerSelect Model are both comprehensive rate structures and pricing models. This blog post will discuss a slightly different approach; the WaterWise Dividend Model serves as a supplement to a utility’s pricing model rather than a stand-alone structure. It could really be implemented alongside any pricing model.

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Financial Health: Running Treatment at Capacity

Dayne Batten is a Research Assistant for the EFC and second year MPA student at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Government.


Traditional engineering plans suggest that, when customer demand approaches the maximum daily capacity of a utility’s treatment plant, the utility should make an expansion to its plant sufficient to handle several decades of growing demand. By following such a strategy, utilities will have a significant amount of excess capacity in the years immediately following a plant expansion. Hence, utilities may face a tradeoff between building a treatment plant capable of serving their needs for quite some time, or expanding their plant incrementally to control fixed costs. As part of our ongoing research into resilient business models for water and sewer utilities, we wanted to see if utilities that were using a greater percentage of their treatment plant capacity tended to be in better (or perhaps worse) financial health.

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