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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Financing Sustainable Water: Building Better Water Rates in an Uncertain World

Houston, TX & Dallas, TX
November 12 & 13
9:30 AM - 2:30 PM

Developing rate structures that successfully balance revenue management, resource efficiency and fiscal sustainability is becoming more challenging than ever in a world of scarce supply, volatile weather and declining demand. Join us to learn from experts about the newest resources and strategies that can help water managers to navigate these challenges.

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San Antonio a Step Closer to Controversial Pipeline

Texas Tribune, September 30, 2014

San Antonio is one step closer to buying some of the most expensive water ever sold in Texas, just as the deal is drawing more critics.

The San Antonio Water System board on Monday unanimously approved a $3.4 billion contract to pipe in 50,000 acre-feet, or 16 billion gallons, of water a year from underneath Central Texas’ Burleson County starting in 2019. The contract is with two companies, Austin-based BlueWater and the Spanish company Abengoa, whose joint venture is called the Vista Ridge pipeline.

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Reservoir Plan to Be Focus of Contested Case Hearing

Texas Tribune, September 24, 2014

Texas regulators on Wednesday will consider a proposal for a Fannin County reservoir that could be one of the last to be built in the state in the coming decades.

Dallas-area water planning officials are seeking the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s approval to build the 16,500-acre Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir on a tributary of the Red River near the state’s border with Oklahoma. The lake would create a new water supply source for the North Texas Municipal Water District, which serves about 1.6 million people — a customer base that is expected to double in the next 20 to 30 years. (Customers include Dallas suburbs like Plano, Richardson and McKinney.)

The proposed Bois d’Arc lake is one of a handful of reservoirs that water planning and policy experts think could still be built in Texas in the next several decades. After the state built dozens of lakes west of Interstate 35 following the historic drought of the 1950s, many are now less than half full, prompting planners to consider looking for water underground or focus more on conservation.

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The Q&A: Jennifer Walker

Texas Tribune, September 23, 2014

With each issue, Trib+Water brings you an interview with experts on water-related issues. Here is this week’s subject:

Jennifer Walker is a water resources coordinator for the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. Walker focuses primarily on water policy issues for Central Texas and the state. She has served on the Lower Colorado Regional Water Planning Group and the Lower Colorado River Authority Water Management Plan Revision Advisory Group, among other groups. More recently, Walker served as a member of the Austin Water Resource Planning Task Force. She has a BS in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology from the University of Texas.

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August made summer 2014 one for the books

San Antonio Express News, September 21, 2014

San Antonio endured another scorching summer, including a seven-day streak of 100-degree days in August that seared a place in the record books.

As the city officially enters fall when the autumnal equinox occurs at 9:29 tonight, residents can thank rains early in the season for helping lawns survive the August heat.

Still, the 4-year-old drought persisted, and on Aug. 12, when the Edwards Aquifer dropped below a 630-foot threshold, the San Antonio pool entered Stage IV, requiring unprecedented 40 percent pumping cutbacks. Environmentalists have especially been worried about endangered species at Comal Springs, which ran dry in 1956 and has run as low as 65 cubic feet per second Aug. 29 and 30.

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