Publications

Sensitivity Analysis of Using Municipal Boundaries as a Proxy for Service Area Boundaries When Calculating Water Affordability Metrics

Water is essential for life, and yet one of the nation’s most pressing water challenges has become ensuring that water services are affordable for households and communities. While there has been growing attention and concern around affordable water services, the actual scale of the problem remains poorly understood, in part because of the lack of data availability.

Measuring Water Affordability and the Financial Capability of Utilities

The cost of providing water services is increasing, placing greater financial burdens on individual households and utilities. Five metrics were calculated at multiple volumes of water usage and were applied to 1791 utilities, estimating bills from 2020 rates data, to gauge financial burdens in four states. More than a fifth of the population in 77% of utilities was experiencing poverty, suggesting widespread poverty is a major contributor to utility financial capability challenges.

Water Consumption and Utility Revenues at the Start of a Pandemic: Insights From 11 Utilities

Key Takeaways

Eleven utilities from across the United States were studied to understand the pandemic's effects on water consumption and utility revenues.

Most utilities in the study saw an overall increase in water consumption with a rise in residential demand that offset declines in nonresidential demand.

Most utilities in the study experienced increased revenues in 2020 compared with previous years, largely due to rate increases, inclining block rates, and an unusually warm summer.

Growing Options for Shrinking Cities

When people and industries leave a community, water utilities face the potential loss of revenue from departing customers and the cost and issues associated with maintaining excess system capacity.

Water systems seek to (1) ensure affordability, (2) maintain high service and quality, and (3) sustain fiscal viability; this creates a trilemma for shrinking cities that can ensure only two of the three.

Addressing Financial Sustainability of Drinking Water Systems with Declining Populations: Lessons from Pennsylvania

This report focuses on the challenges facing water utilities in areas where population has declined in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A total of 16 water systems were broadly analyzed, with in-depth analyses of four municipal water systems in the cities of Altoona, Chester, Johnstown, and Reading. These four cases highlight some of the overall trends and complications faced by shrinking cities.

2020 Aspen-Nicholas Water Forum Water Affordability and Equity Briefing Document

This paper explores the evolution of water services in the United States. Most people have access to water, most tap water is drinkable, most dams are secure, most farms can grow more with less water, and most rivers are cleaner than they were 50 years ago. Most does not mean all. There is growing evidence that an increasing number of Americans are losing access to safe drinking water and sanitation—and others never had it at all.

COVID-19 Impacts on Water Utility Consumption and Revenues Through June 2020

May and June 2020 data for the eight water utilities in our study show diverging trends of water consumption and revenues as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, with states and local governments taking different approaches and timelines to rolling back restrictions. There are signs of recovery in water consumption and revenues for many utilities, mostly due to high residential consumption and billed revenues, not increased usage from non-residential customers.

COVID-19 Impacts on Water Utility Consumption and Revenues: Preliminary Results

Preliminary data from five water utilities of different sizes and different climates across the U.S. show variable impacts to consumption and billed revenue in response to the global pandemic. Some utilities saw a decline in primarily non-residential consumption of up to 19% and non-residential billed revenue of up to 8% in April, one full month into the pandemic, relative to April usage and revenue in the past three years. For some utilities, consumption and revenues remained similar to previous years.

Ensuring Water Quality: Innovating on the Clean Water & Safe Drinking Water Acts for the 21st Century

The 2019 Aspen-Nicholas Water Forum explored the concept of innovating the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts for the 21st Century and the ideas that undergird these two acts, their successes, shortcomings, and unintended consequences. The central question was how can innovation and regulation at local, state, and federal levels address chronic and emerging water quality challenges across the U.S.?

Federal Decentralization and Adaptive Management of Water Resources: Reservoir Reallocation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Reservoir operations must respond to changing conditions, such as climate, water demand, regulations, and sedimentation. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) can reallocate reservoir storage to respond to such changes. We assembled and analyzed a database of reservoir reallocations implemented and proposed by the Corps.