Why Being Small is Hard- Big Challenges for Small Water Systems

Access to clean, safe water does not come easy. We may have mental images of some parts of the world where people spend their whole day traveling to and from water sources and preparing water so that it is safe to consume. But in the United States, we’ve come to expect clean and safe water at the turn of a …

‘Tis the Seasonal Rates: A Quick Look at Seasonal Rates Across Six States

Written by: Evan Kirk Evan Kirk is a student data analyst at the Environmental Finance Center. During my first year at the Environmental Finance Center (EFC) I have worked on water and wastewater rate surveys in Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Arizona, Hawaii, and Connecticut. While uniform, block, and tiered rate structures are commonly used by water and wastewater utilities, seasonal …

Are Utilities that Need to Raise Rates Actually Raising Rates?

Written by: Shadi Eskaf Shadi Eskaf is a Senior Project Director at the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. What happens if a water utility collects less in revenues than it pays in expenditures in one year? It will raise some alarms, but some utilities might be able to weather that shortfall by dipping …

I’ve Got the Rate Case Blues: How to Maintain Financial Health While Mounting Fewer Rate Cases

Written by: Evan Kirk Evan Kirk graduated from The University of North Carolina at UNC Chapel Hill in May 2016 with a degree in Environmental Science, concentrating in energy and sustainability. For water and sewer utilities regulated by a state’s public utilities commission (PUC), mounting a rate case can be an expensive proposition. In fact, for some particularly small utilities, …

Fun Facts about Water System Rate Structures

Written by: Daniel Irvin Daniel Irvin is the Environmental Finance Community Advisor at the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  The Environmental Finance Center currently produces statewide water and wastewater rates dashboards for 12 states across the US. We collect a lot of data on water system finance and management to build these dashboards, and those …

Six Keys to Improve your Water Utility’s Credit Rating- A Cheat Sheet

Written by: Stacey Isaac Berahzer Stacey Isaac Berahzer is a Senior Project Director at the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Water and Wastewater utilities receive “credit ratings” just as a private individual has a FICO® score. While organizations like the Fair Isaac Corporation calculate personal credit scores, for entities like local government utilities, …

Three Strategies for Water Utilities with Aging Infrastructure

Written by: Allison Perch Allison Perch is a Program Coordinator at the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Last month, as part of our Smart Management for Small Water Systems project, I traveled with Glenn Barnes, Senior Project Director at the Environmental Finance Center at UNC Chapel Hill, to visit a small water system that …

Key Financial Indicators for Water Systems: Revenue Stability

Written by: David Tucker David Tucker is a Project Director at the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  “Are our water utility’s rates right?” This is an often difficult question that arises at our  workshops and webinars for small water systems, through our direct technical assistance, and which many of our readers may be interested in. …

Four Finance Facts About Flint

Written by: Jeff Hughes Jeff Hughes is the Director of the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As this blog is being written, water and community managers from across the country are talking about the water crisis that is occurring in Flint, Michigan. The City made a decision several years ago to discontinue buying …

Key Financial Benchmarks for Water Systems: Conservation Signal

Written by: Glenn Barnes Glenn Barnes is a Senior Project Director with the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  At our workshops and through our discussions with water systems during technical assistance work, many water systems, in particular small systems, ask what seems like a simple question: “Are our rates right?” I suspect our initial answer …