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Between November 2017 and March 2018, the North Carolina League of Municipalities (NCLM) and the Environmental Finance Center (EFC) at the University of North Carolina’s School of Government conducted a statewide survey of the management and long-term planning practices and policies of North Carolina drinking water and wastewater utilities. The purpose of this survey was to examine the relationship between long-term planning and resiliency, as measured by financial stability and fewer regulation violations. The hypothesis is that utilities that undertake more or earlier long-term planning benefit from more resilient finances and improved system performance, thereby providing better environmental services relative to other utilities. All local government-owned utilities and many not-forprofit utilities were invited to participate in the survey. These utilities serve the vast majority of residents who are connected to public water and/or wastewater systems in North Carolina. This initial report summarizes the data collected in the survey. A future article will discuss the results of using regression analysis to determine the correlation, if any, between long-term planning and resiliency.

 

Planning And Resiliency In North Carolina’s Water Utilities

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Article published by the EFC in the NC Currents journal’s Summer 2019 edition.

Planning is a long-term investment – it requires a large outlay of time up front, with the hope that, down the line, the effort will pay off in the ability to successfully weather changes. For example, financial plans provide structure to how a utility’s finances are managed, laying out ways to build up reserves to accommodate fluctuations in revenues and costs. Emergency/resiliency plans help utilities recover from natural disasters, such as Hurricane Florence, or other issues such as contaminants in the water. Yet is there any evidence that utilities that undergo more extensive planning reap benefits in terms of greater resiliency than other utilities? What kinds of plans do water utilities in North Carolina produce?

 

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