Designing Water Rate Structures for Conservation and Revenue Stability

February 2014

Water pricing can be one of the most effective methods to driving conservation and it is also the primary mechanism for recovering the revenue that a water utility needs to protect public health and the environment.  The Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina and the Sierra Club, Lone Star Chapter have written a report to help Texas water utilities use their water rates and financial policies to encourage customers to reduce their water use while maintaining the financial viability of the utility.

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Webinar Information:  UNC and the Sierra Club hosted a webinar on March 19 that focused on the findings and recommendations of our new report that explores the relationship between water pricing, water use, and revenue stability in the State of Texas.  The webinar addresses how utilities can strike a balance between conservation and revenue stability and introduce rate structures, billing options, and financial practices that will help utilities advance water conservation objectives without undercutting needed revenue stability.


Desalination: Is it Worth its Salt?

November 2013

Desalination is often viewed as a solution to many water supply problems and is often hailed as a ‘drought resistant’ supply. This report explores the environmental, energy, and economic issues surrounding desalination and provides an overview of desalination activities in Texas.

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How graywater could be a conservation method for the masses. (But isn’t.)

Texas Observer, November 19, 2014

Rodney Rash is the kind of guy who knows how to make something out of nothing. A former carpenter and electrician, Rash now works as a magician, constructing his own props and offering the plans for free online. He’s plugging away at a book on how to build a home for $35,000. But when he went to go construct a system to recycle water from his sinks, showers and washing machine at his home in Round Rock, Rash was stymied.

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The Q&A: Ken Kramer

Texas Tribune, November 18, 2014

Ken Kramer, a water policy expert for the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, spent more than 23 years as the organization’s first director before retiring in 2012. Prior to that, he served as the lobbyist for the chapter. With the next legislative session approaching, the Tribune asked Kramer what to expect from lawmakers. The conversation also touched on his thoughts on rules the Texas Water Development Board finalized earlier this month, which set parameters for how the board distributes funds from the voter-approved $2 billion revolving account to finance water projects.

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Central Texas drought persists, with October flows into Lakes Travis and Buchanan among lowest on record

Austin American Statesman, November 10, 2014

The Lower Colorado River Authority has tallied the affect of early autumn rains on Central Texas’ major reservoirs, and the results were not much to cheer about.

Light rains in October led to little runoff in the tributaries that feed lakes Travis and Buchanan. October inflows were the third lowest October inflows in the region’s history, totaling 9,242 acre-feet, or just 7.7 percent of the average for the month. An acre-foot of water is enough to satisfy the lawn-watering, drinking, bathing, and washing needs of four average Austin households for a year.

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Report on proposed Marvin Nichols reservoir downplays impacts

Longview News Journal, November 9, 2014

The state agency that will decide whether Marvin Nichols Reservoir goes into the Texas water plan has given Northeast Texas water planners more time to respond to a report on the lake’s impact.

The report was submitted Oct. 31 by Dallas water officials hoping to build the reservoir on the Sulphur River.

The staff of the Texas Water Development Board and the Northeast Texas Regional Water Planning Group now have until Dec. 17 to comment on the 125-page technical report, said planning group director Walt Sears. The initial response window was to close Nov. 19, but the water board added a month after a request from state Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler.