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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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Central Texas Drought Is Worst on Record

Circle of Blue, February 25, 2015

On February 18, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) in Texas, a water supplier to power plants and farms, and to Austin, the fast-growing capital, announced that the deep drought that has gripped the state’s Colorado River watershed since 2008 is the worst on record.

Along with California, which is grappling with its own water crisis, the two largest states in the country face historic dry periods that are testing in new ways the ability of managers to provide adequate supplies to swelling populations in an era of scarce precipitation.

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Upriver, a dispute brews on the Colorado over proposed dam

Austin American Statesman, February 20, 2015

Several years ago, at the height of the current drought, the river essentially dried up here, killing off 12,000 of the 100,000 pecan trees that belong to the Leonard family. The nearby town of Goldthwaite, 100 miles northwest of Austin and also dependent on Colorado River water, came within 90 days of losing its water supply altogether.

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LCRA: Current drought worst on record for Central Texas

KXAN, February 18, 2015

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The ongoing drought impacting Central Texas’ Highland Lakes is the worst the region has experienced since the lakes were built in the 1930s, according to data from the Lower Colorado River Authority presented at a Wednesday meeting. Preliminary LCRA data shows the Highland Lakes are in a new “critical period,” drier than the 1947-57 drought previously considered the worst on record. The Highland Lakes include lakes Travis, Buchanan, Inks, LBJ and Austin. Lakes Travis and Buchanan serve as the primary water supply for the city of Austin and several other Central Texas cities.

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Buda locks down controversial water source

Community Impact, February 18, 2015

The ongoing endeavor to secure future water supplies is coming to a boil in Hays County.

A Houston-based water development company wants to pump more than 5 million gallons of water per day from the Trinity Aquifer to supply its local customers—the city of Buda, the Goforth Special Utility District and a proposed high-end subdivision in Mountain City’s outskirts. Its contracts become effective once the company’s test wells prove the site can produce sufficient groundwater.

Electro Purification would not need permits to draw water from the aquifer and may, by law, extract as much water as desired because no agency regulates pumping from the production site.

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Decker Lake Golf proposes tapping Trinity Aquifer to solve water issue

Austin American Statesman, February 17, 2015

Warren Hayes, who wants to build two PGA-caliber golf courses in Austin’s Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park, says he has a solution to the water-supply concerns that have handicapped the proposal: Instead of sticking a straw into Austin’s water supply, he wants to stick one in the ground.

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