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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Brazos Watermaster Hotly Contested

Texas Tribune, April 20, 2014

For decades, water wars have been rare in East Texas, where annual rainfall can be twice that of West Texas. But as drought keeps its grip on the entire state, the Brazos River is bucking that trend, forcing regulators to scrutinize its users in ways that could have implications for many in-demand Texas waterways.

The Brazos’ lower basin, which flows from west of Fort Worth through Waco and down to the Gulf Coast, has been the subject of some of the most contentious water fights of the last few years. In response, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality decided last week to appoint a watermaster to the lower Brazos basin — an overseer who will interact daily with river users like farmers and manufacturers and require them to report their water use in real time.

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You Can’t Say They Don’t Care What You Think – Public Input on HB 4

March 28, 2014

Last November Texas voters overwhelming approved Proposition 6 – a proposed state constitutional amendment that created a new state water fund for water projects in the state water plan. Approval of “Prop 6” indirectly transferred $2 billion from the state’s “rainy day” fund into this new State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) to provide […]

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Biggest water users consume 10 to 20 times more than average household

San Antonio Express News, March 24, 2014

SAN ANTONIO — Nestled in a large house on a 5.6-acre lot, Jimmy Walsdorf thought it was normal to pay hundreds of dollars each month for water.

Walsdorf’s bills climbed close to the $1,000 mark as his monthly use rose to nearly 120,000 gallons in 2012. Then he got a jolt of reality that made him a believer in conservation: a letter from the San Antonio Water System saying he’d made the utility’s list of the biggest 100 residential users.

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