How Utilities in the Past have Saved Money during Economic Hardship: Similarities and Differences for COVID-19

Written by Erin Ansbro, Data Researcher, and Elsemarie Mullins, Project Director, at EFC at UNC Right now, water utilities are facing great uncertainty about the coming months and years. When will moratoria on water shut-offs end? When will water consumption be back to “normal”? Will utility staff get COVID-19? And the “Big One” — What will revenue loss be for …

Operating at a Deficit: Solutions to a Water and Wastewater Operator Shortage

Written by: Daniel Willems, Research Assistant, Environmental Finance Center at UNC Across the country, communities are dealing with a shortage of water and wastewater treatment plant operators. This shortage –  largely due to retirements occurring in an aging workforce – is leaving many municipalities in need of immediate replacements or short-term transition plans.  Without qualified individuals to ensure state and federal …

Partnerships and Regionalization – A Real Life Situation

Written by: Tom Roberts, Community Assistance Manager, EFC at UNC Did you know there are over 250 publicly owned small water systems serving less than 1,000 connections in North Carolina? In the case of water and wastewater utilities, bigger can often mean better. The Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was asked earlier this …

Water as a Service

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 …

Top Five Small Town Websites and Tips to Improve Your Own

  Written by: Erin Danford Erin Danford is an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 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 …

Seven Strategies for Identifying Who Is Willing and Able to Pay for Household Water Services

Guest post by Urooj Amjad Urooj Amjad is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Economics Department of Queens College, City University of New York where she teaches Environmental Economics. She was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at The Water Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and received her Ph.D. from the University of London.  Accurately identifying vulnerable groups and …

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 …

Three States With Laws Allowing Water Utility Customer Assistance Programs

Written by: Michael Burgess Michael Burgess is a law student in the class of 2018 at the Emory University School of Law. He currently serves as a legal intern for the UNC Environmental Finance Center. Unlike your favorite TV show, college football, or even your cell phone, water is a truly vital part of life. However, many Americans may still …

Three Strategies to Reduce Costs: Purchasing Partnerships for Water Systems

Written by: Lauren Joca Lauren Joca is a student intern at the UNC Environmental Finance Center pursing a Master’s degree in the School of Public Health and the Department of City and Regional Planning.  Drinking water and wastewater systems may be able to reduce costs bypartnering with other systems. These partnerships can range from informal agreements to the transfer of …