Resiliency: What’s the Buzz?

Written by: Sarah Diefendorf Sarah Diefendorf is the Director of EFC West. There is quite a bit of talk about resiliency today and it seems as though there are numerous definitions and uses to fit just about any circumstance.  There are schools of thought dedicated to data resilience, military resilience and even psychological resilience.  Entire academic and nonprofit centers have …

Envisioning the Future of Water: Three Lessons Learned from One City

Written by: Andrea Kopaskie Andrea Kopaskie is an undergraduate student at The University of North Carolina, where she is pursuing a degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in energy and sustainability. In March, the UNC Institute for the Environment hosted the Clean Tech Summit, a multi-day event in which students and professionals  convene and foster leadership and discussion among the …

Toxic Water: Our Responsibility

Written by Heather Himmelberger Heather Himmelberger is the Director at the Southwest Environmental Finance Center “4 million Americans could be drinking toxic water and would never know” headlined USA Today on December 15th, 2016.  There is no question that lead in drinking water is a major concern and that making drinking water safe for everyone should be a paramount concern.  …

What Role Should Your Utility Play in Your Community’s Development?

Written by: Nick Willis Nick Willis is a Program Manager with the Environmental Finance Center at Wichita State University.  Most of the time water and sewer professionals focus on the day-to-day tasks of operating a utility. But how involved should utilities be in advancing the growth of their community? How does community development fit within the utility’s role to provide …

New Video Series on Financial Topics for Water Utilities, their Boards, and Funders

Water utility governing boards serve a critical role in ensuring the provision of clean, safe drinking water. Governing boards are tasked with making important and complex decisions in line with the utility’s mission, and they ultimately serve to keep water utilities accountable to the public. One of the most important roles of a governing board is to protect the utility’s long-term financial health and sustainability. Yet water utility governing board members don’t always have a background in finance or a strong understanding of key financial issues that impact the utility.

A new series of educational videos produced by the Environmental Finance Center at UNC Chapel Hill, with support from the Water Research Foundation, offers an engaging, accessible, and easily shareable resource on financial management topics designed specifically for water utility governing boards. The Water₡lips© Video Series describes challenges faced by water utilities across the country using eye catching visualizations and easy to understand explanations of concepts that can otherwise be daunting.

New Tool Helps Utilities Assess the Affordability of Water and Wastewater Service

When the five small water systems in Hampton County, South Carolina decided to band together to create the Lowcountry Regional Water System (LRWS), they, like many other small water systems across the country, faced a number of managerial and financial obstacles. Among these challenges were a flat growth rate, degraded and inadequate infrastructure, artificially low rates, and an economically disadvantaged population. Each of the five communities in this rural county had not only a different rate level, but also a different rate structure, with monthly rates for 5,000 gallons of water and sewer service ranging from as low as $36.50 to as high as $62.67. Whether the rates of the new, regionalized water system were “affordable” for all customers became a top concern for the LRWS.

Water Efficiency at Drinking Water Systems without Volumetric Charges

All drinking water systems should be concerned about water loss—water that is treated but does not reach an end user because it leaks out through the system’s network of pipes. Water loss wastes both a precious resource (the drinking water) and potentially a lot of money as well (energy use, chemicals, wear and tear on equipment, etc.).