EFC Project: Georgia Water and Wastewater Rates, Rate Structures and Connection Fees
The Environmental Finance Center and the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) conduct annual water and wastewater rates surveys of nearly all local government and many non-profit utilities in the State of Georgia.
All related publications and tools are shown in the boxes to the left. Shortcut to:
Georgia's utilities use many different rate structures under an economic regulatory framework that has few rate setting requirements. These different rates and rate structures have financial impacts on revenue stability, household expenditures, and water use behavior. Various rate strategies influence resource use differently and, conversely, efforts to curtail resource use (for example, conservation) have unique revenue impacts depending on a utility's rates, rate structure, and customer base. Information on how utilities in Georgia charge for water and wastewater services is important for utilities in benchmarking their current rates and financial performance.
The Environmental Finance Center (EFC) and the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) collect rate sheets from hundreds of local government and non-governmental utilities across the State of Georgia. These rate sheets specify how utilities charge water/wastewater customers for their water use or wastewater disposal. The participating utilities account for more than 86 percent of all local government owned utilities in the state, serving over 99 percent of all customers served by public water systems. A novel customer expenditure model developed by EFC is used to calculate residential and commercial water and wastewater bills for all participating utilities for any consumption amount. The development of the model represents a breakthrough in the methodology for carrying out large sample size utility rates surveys. Customer bills are calculated across a spectrum of customer consumption rather than at one or two discrete consumption levels (e.g. the bill for 5,000 gallons/month). The results give insight to the rate setting objectives in place at a particular utility. For example, a utility might have particularly high bills at large consumption levels to encourage resource conservation or particularly low bills at small consumption levels to make the minimum level of services more affordable. Information on rates and rate structures across the state are compiled into annual reports and tables and the GA 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.
Survey Response Rate:
Year and Month of Survey Publications
(survey conducted a few months prior)
|Number of Utilities that Participated in the Rates Survey|
|The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) is an agency of the State of Georgia, created by an act of the General Assembly in 1983, specifically to provide low interest water and wastewater loans to Georgia's local governments. Our mission is to conserve and improve Georgia's energy, land and water resources.||The Environmental Finance Center (EFC), based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and with an office in Atlanta works with local communities and government agencies to address environmental management challenges by developing innovative financial management and environmental policy strategies and systems.|
Every year, the EFC and the GEFA 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.
GA 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.
Annual Summary Report: A short report summarizing the rates, rate structures and trends currently in use across the State of Georgia. The report answers frequently asked questions about what utilities are charging, their rate structure designs, how rates have increased, affordability and financial sustainability of GA utilities.
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.
To view your utility's rate sheet, 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. If you do not find your rate sheet in the dropdown menu, please email a copy to email@example.com (link sends e-mail) or fax a copy to 919-843-2528.
Rates effective as of June 2015. Please contact the utilities directly for the latest, most accurate information.
In 2013, the EFC, with funding from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, collected information about the initial, one-time fees utilities charge their residential customers for new drinking water/wastewater connections: tap fees and system development charges (impact 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 developing system capacity to accommodate the extra demand placed on the system by the new customer. Utilities in Georiga have flexibility in setting tap fees and system development charges.
The results are presented in the form of tables that list each of the 297 utilities' fees in 2013. Only residential fees are included in the tables; non-residential fees and other financing mechanisms such as property assessments were not included in the study.
Relating to the subject of tap and impact fees in neighboring North Carolina, Jeff Hughes also posted a blog on how to balance affordable housing considerations with full cost pricing and legal requirements in setting impact fees.
Water and wastewater utility management involves a number of decisions and policies on financial issues. In Georgia, it is generally accepted that local governments have significant flexibility in structuring their utility services. In a supplemental survey conducted in 2010 (in partnership with the Georgia Association of Water Professionals' Utility Finance and Management Committee), the EFC collected information on some of the common practices that Georgia utilities have adopted when it comes to topics such as debt collection practices. The results of the survey helped create a guidebook specifically for Georgia water and wastewater utility managers.
A Guide to Billing and Debt Collection Practices within Georgia's Water and Wastewater Utility Service Industry Guidebook: A guidebook written specifically for Georgia water and wastewater utility managers, explaining the legal framework upon which water/wastewater utility services are established, operated and provided in the State of Georgia. Covers legal issues around establishing a utility account, rate structures, deposits, service activation, late fees, customer credit history as predicate for providing water utility services, fee variation under local laws and ordinances, termination of water service utility accounts, notice of delinquent payment and subsequent termination, lien attachments, regime changes, and more. Download the guidebook.
Examples of Utility Practices on Funds, Reserves and Debt Collection in 2010: The following map provides links to documents that summarize a few Georgia utilities' practices concerning the type of funds and reserves maintained as well as policies on debt collection. Click on the markers to access a link to a pdf of the utility finance practices for each location. Note: Practices effective as of 2010. Contact the utilities directly for the latest, most accurate information.
Project funded by: Georgia Environmental Finance Authority
Project last updated: Fri, 2015-08-14 16:51