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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Groundwater wars brewing in Austin’s suburbs

Texas Tribune, January 23, 2015

WIMBERLEY — In a classic example of the gaps in Texas’ patchwork approach to regulating groundwater, an unprecedented amount of water may soon be pumped from underneath already-parched Hays County with virtually no oversight.

Houston-based Electro Purification hopes to eventually pump 5 million gallons of water daily from the Trinity Aquifer, and sell it to some of Austin’s fastest-growing Hill Country suburbs, including the town of Buda and a new subdivision planned near Kyle.

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An oral history: War & peace over the Edwards Aquifer

Rivard Report, January 21, 2015

Three years ago, the undeclared Edwards Aquifer water war came to an end after a half century of regional conflict that pitted San Antonio and dozens of regional entities against one another in a feud that divided generations of neighbors.

For decades, San Antonio, as the largest user of aquifer water, was the most resented in a world of self-serving rivalries among the region’s agricultural interests, small towns and area counties, river authorities and water districts, downstream users, and environmentalists.

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Parched by drought, cities look to tap the ocean

January 12, 2015

by  Verne Kopytoff

A seawater desalination plant under construction near San Diego will be the nation’s largest when complete. Is it really necessary?

After three years of drought, California’s reservoirs are filled with more mud than water. Many farmers can’t irrigate their fields and have no choice but to leave them fallow.

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Marvin Nichols Reservoir Stays in State Plan

Texas Tribune, January 8, 2015

It was an argument the state’s top water planning officials had long avoided, over a huge lake that probably won’t exist for decades — if ever.

But on Thursday morning, the Texas Water Development Board‘s three members unanimously voted for the 72,000-acre Marvin Nichols Reservoir — which the thirsty Dallas Fort-Worth region hopes to build in Northeast Texas — to stay in the State Water Plan.

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Price of harvesting oysters costly to bays, consumers

Victoria Advocate, December 18, 2014

Estuaries damaged by hurricanes and drought are driving up the cost of oysters.

On Tuesday, oyster boats pulled into Seadrift marina expecting to get $30 for a sack, or about 260 market-sized oysters. But boats were bringing in less than half their daily limit. After nine hours of work, harvesters were lucky to have 25 sacks.

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