Hawaii | Hawaii Water Works Association Annual Conference 2019

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Date(s) - 10/09/2019 - 10/11/2019
12:00 am
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Ala Moana Hotel


The Environmental Finance Center at UNC presented three sessions at the HWWA Annual Conference:

Innovative Financing Options for Water Quality Challenges: Like many states, Hawai’i is faced with water quality challenges in some of its drinking water sources. Whether utilities are facing growing costs associated with complying with state or federal water quality regulations, or new treatment costs associated with unique contaminants, water quality needs present unique finance challenges for utilities and state and local governments. This session will evaluate the innovative financing options available to utilities that can be used for water quality improvements. The session will start with a look at state or federal funding programs, and then will highlight some examples of innovative financing mechanisms being used around the country, including partnership models, and dedicated revenue sources.

Smart Benchmarking and the Water Rates DashboardAlthough every utility is different and each faces unique challenges, there is significant value in benchmarking for evaluating financial performance. In assisting small utilities, the Environmental Finance Center seeks to first assess an individual utility’s needs, and then to apply smart benchmarking tools where appropriate. One of the EFC’s most commonly used benchmarking tools is its rates dashboard. In 2016, the EFC, in collaboration with the Safe Drinking Water Branch of Hawai’i’s State Department of Health, conducted a water rates survey of nearly all local government and other utilities in the state of Hawai’i. These rate sheets specify how utilities charge water customers for their water use. The results give insight to the rate setting objectives in place at a particular utility. This session will explore the results and key findings from the statewide water rates survey, as well as demonstrate the Hawai’i Rates Dashboard, an online, interactive tool that allows utilities to compare their rates to other systems and to benchmark their financial performance against accepted standards.

Affordability Updates and Options: Many water and wastewater utilities are considering ways to assist their low-income customers. Assistance can be provided at the state level or the utility
level. This session will start at the utility level with a demonstration on using the Water and Wastewater Residential Rates Affordability Assessment Tool. The Excel-based tool guides a utility to obtain a range of Census data on its community in order to assess the relative affordability of its water & wastewater rates on its residential customers using multiple metrics. This provides the utility with more information and a more comprehensive understanding of the affordability of its rates. The tool also allows a utility to compare two rate structures side-by-side, enabling the utility to assess the affordability of its current rates alongside alternative rates. This session will also explore the legal barriers and opportunities to water and wastewater utilities establishing customer assistance programs for low-income customers in Hawai’i. At the state level, this session will provide an overview of metrics used as evaluation criteria by Hawai’i’s SRF programs, and highlight the ways that such metrics when used effectively.

Trainer: Erin Riggs, Senior Project Director, Environmental Finance Center at UNC

Contact: Allison Perch, perch@sog.unc.edu