EFC Project: North Carolina Water and Wastewater Rates, Rate Structures and Connection Fees

North Carolina Water and Wastewater Rates, Rate Structures and Connection Fees

Research conducted by the EFC and the North Carolina League of Municipalities

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All related publications and tools are shown in the boxes to the left. Shortcut to:



Description of the Annual NC Water and Wastewater Rates Survey

Every year, the Environmental Finance Center (EFC) at the UNC School of Government and the North Carolina League of Municipalities (NCLM) collect rate sheets from hundreds of local government and non-governmental utilities across the State of North Carolina. These rate sheets specify how utilities charge water/wastewater customers for their water use or wastewater disposal. The sampled utilities serve over 95 percent of all customers who are directly billed for their water or wastewater use by utilities in the state. The EFC uses the rate sheets to determine what residential and commercial customers of these utilities are billed for their water, irrigation and wastewater service at various consumption levels. Information on rates and rate structures across the state are compiled into annual reports and tables and the NC Rates Dashboard and shared with utility managers, councils, and boards. This information allows for comparisons and benchmarking of current rates (and other financial data) and can assist officials and staff as they make decisions related to water and wastewater services during budget preparations. 

Year (Rates Effective January/February of...)

Number of Utilities that Participated in the Rates Survey
2017 442
2016 418
2015 496
2014 372
2013 507
2012 494
2011 494
2010 493
2009 498
2008 443
2007 370
2006 333
2005 283



Reports, Tables and Dashboards of NC Water and Wastewater Rates and Rate Structures

Every year, the EFC and the NCLM publish a series of products resulting from the annual rates survey. All tools and publications are available for free to the public and are listed in the boxes to the left.


NC Rates Dashboard: An online, interactive visual display of each utility's rates and financial performance indicators. The dashboard is designed to assist utility managers and local officials with analyzing residential water and wastewater rates against multiple characteristics, including utility finances, system characteristics, customer base socioeconomic conditions, and geography.

Access the 2017 Rates Dashboard (last updated on March 16, 2017).


Annual Summary Report of Rates and Rate Structures: A short report summarizing the rates, rate structures and trends currently in use across the State of North Carolina. The report answers frequently asked questions about what utilities are charging, their rate structure designs, how rates have increased, affordability and financial sustainability of NC utilities.

Access the Report for Year (summarizing rates current as of January): 2017 (NEW! March 23, 2017)   2016   2015   2014   2013   2012   2011   2010   2009   2008   2007   2006   2005


Tables of Rates and Rate Structures: Data tables that list all utilities' residential and non-residential water, wastewater and residential irrigation rate structure details as well as the monthly-equivalent bills computed at different consumption levels. 

Access the Tables for Year (summarizing rates current as of January): 2017 (NEW! March 15, 2017)   2016   2015   2014   2013   2012   2011   2010   2009   2008   2007   2006   2005



Review Your Utility's Rate Sheet(s) for January 2017 Rates

To view your utility's rate sheet for rates effective on January 1, 2017, please select from the drop down menu. A pdf file of 2-11 pages will appear (requires Adobe Reader). Please note that some utilities may have more than one rate sheet. For example: some counties have one rate sheet per district, Raleigh has different rate sheets for different service areas, etc. Please send any corrections to Annalee Harkins at efc@sog.unc.edu 

Rates effective on January 1, 2017. Please contact the utilities directly for the most up-to-date rates.



Residential Tap Fees and System Development Charges in NC

When a new house connects to a water or wastewater system for the first time, utilities often charge to make that new connection. How utilities charge for this connection, and how much, varies from utility to utility. The Environmental Finance Center and the North Carolina League of Municipalities periodically collect information about these initial, one-time fees utilities charge their residential customers for new water/wastewater connections, which are often comprised of tap (connection) fees and/or system development charges (capacity fees). Tap fees are designed to recover all or a portion of the cost (materials and labor) of connecting a customer to the nearest water or sewer line. System development charges are associated with the proportional costs of developing and maintaining system capacity to accommodate the demand placed on the system by the new customer. 

The results are presented in the form of tables that list each utility's fees, and a short memo that summarizes the range of fees across hundreds of utilities statewide. Only residential fees are included in these documents; non-residential fees and other financing mechanisms such as property assessments were not included in the study.

Access the report for year: 2015   2009   2006

Access the tables for year: 2015   2009   2006


Important Update: in August 2016, the North Carolina Supreme Court invalidated the impact fees (akin to system development charges) assessed on new development by a North Carolina town. The consequence of this ruling on municipalities is described in September 2016 blog posts by Jeff Hughes and by SOG faculty member Kara Millonzi.

View this video by Kara Millonzi and Jeff Hughes explaining these recent changes in an October 2016 webinar:


Blog posts related to drinking water & wastewater connection fees, system development charges, availability fees, special assessments, and mandatory connections in North Carolina:


Project funded by: Environmental Protection Agency, NC Department of Environmental Quality, NC League of Municipalities
Project last updated: Wed, 2017-07-05 10:13

For more information, please contact Shadi Eskaf or Annalee Harkins at the Environmental Finance Center, or Chris Nida at the North Carolina League of Municipalities.