Municipal Finance in a Pandemic: How is the Market Responding?

Written by Austin Thompson, Project Director, EFC at UNC Municipal Bonds & COVID-19: What is going on? Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the US, the municipal (“muni”) bond market was strong. Investors looking for a non-taxable rate of return were hungry for municipal bonds, driving interest rates down for borrowers (state and local governments) and pushing more debt …

Financial Implications of COVID-19 for Water and Wastewater Utilities

Written by: Shadi Eskaf, Research Director, EFC at UNC Water and wastewater utilities are adapting to the rapidly changing conditions imposed across the country and the world by the COVID-19 pandemic. With stay-at-home orders, closures of schools, restaurants, and other businesses, and major disruptions to the workforce and operations, utilities are changing practices and procedures every day to continue to …

Can Households Afford Water and Wastewater Bills When Faced with Unexpected Expenses?

At the Environmental Finance Center, we think a lot about the affordability of environmental services such as drinking water and wastewater.  Historically, many systems have measured affordability by looking at the cost of service compared to a community’s median household income (MHI), though this measure is limited.  A better way to measure affordability is to look at the cost of service over a range of income …

Are Your Rates Special?

Written by: Annalee Harkins Annalee Harkins is a Data Specialist and Project Manager at the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  In the course of conducting our statewide utility rates surveys, we here at the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill examine thousands of rate structures each year. …

Podcast Round-Up: 12 Episodes on Drinking Water Finance and Management

Written by: Glenn Barnes Glenn Barnes is the Associate Director at the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill My colleague Stacey Isaac Berahzer, a senior project director here at the Environmental Finance Center, made her podcast debut this week on The Water Values Podcast, a series specifically focused on drinking water finance and management.  The Water Values is …

Solutions for Problems Facing Small Drinking Water Systems

Written by: Rosemary Astra-Blossom Rosemary Astra-Blossom is the Funding Intern at the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Financial management is at the core of challenges small drinking water systems face. A comprehensive understanding of the financial health of a water system can help ensure that rates are set optimally, giving small systems the …

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, …