Capital Region Water

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, United States

Capital Region Water (CRW) is a municipal authority that owns and manages the greater Harrisburg area’s water, wastewater, and stormwater systems and infrastructure. CRW was created from The Harrisburg Authority in 2013 as an independent water and wastewater authority in the City of Harrisburg (City) when assets and system ownership were consolidated. The system includes stormwater drains, water source of supply, water treatment, and conveyance systems, and wastewater treatment, conveyance, and collection facilities, which serve approximately 20,700 accounts in Harrisburg (City), as well as portions of surrounding municipalities, including Penbrook, Paxtang, and Steelton Boroughs and Susquehanna, Swatara, and Lower Paxton Townships.

Financial and Rate Consulting

Raftelis has served as CRW’s rate and financial consultant since 2017 and have completed water, wastewater, and stormwater financial plans, cost-of-service evaluations, and rate structure reviews. This has consisted of preparing financial plans to support the funding of CRW’s capital improvement needs, assisting with rate setting, and supporting the issuance of revenue bonds. We prepared financial planning and rate models to analyze various capital funding and rate scenarios. The rate models were developed to be clear, concise, and user-friendly. The models document the calculations and methodologies utilized to forecast revenues and expenses and estimate the customer cost responsibility of the utility system.

User Fee Study Writeup

Completed a user fee study to review and update the municipality’s fees for service. This scope consisted of reviewing the level of effort and associated cost of service related to the fees, comparing existing fees to other municipalities in the region, developing and providing a miscellaneous fee model for the client’s future use, and preparing a fee study report. The user fees that were evaluated included settlement paperwork fees, permit fees, application fees, return check fees, disconnection of service fees, service turn-on/turn-off fees, meter replacement fees, connection fees, impact fees, extra-strength surcharges,

In addition, as part of the user fee study, Raftelis assisted Capital Region Water in updating user fees for water and sewer service, develop a new stormwater user fee, and complete an affordability analysis to assist the Authority negotiate a long-term capital implementation plan with the PADEP and the USEPA.

Affordability Assessment

We have also assisted CRW in developing its Long-Term Control Plan (LTCP) and meeting its Consent Order requirements by preparing a detailed affordability and financial capability assessment. This assessment evaluated the current and projected future socioeconomic conditions within Harrisburg, and assessed the impact that various levels of LTCP and asset rehabilitation capital investments will have on CRW wastewater and stormwater rates, affordability, and overall utility financial condition. This assessment was used to help negotiate an acceptable LTCP implementation schedule with the USEPA.

Stormwater Fee Implementation

Raftelis prepared a stormwater fee implementation plan that establishes a stormwater fee structure, credit policy, and appeals process for implementation of a new stormwater fee program. We then assisted CRW with implementing a separate stormwater fee to recover the cost of stormwater management, including data development, supporting customer outreach and developing and deploying processes and a toolset for customer care and data maintenance. We assisted with establishing the billing system requirements for billing the stormwater fee in Munilink, CRW’s billing system.

Wholesale Customer Assistance

We have also developed rates for both retail and wholesale customers annually, facilitating stakeholder communications involving wholesale stakeholders in a cost-of-service evaluation process, and presenting results and recommendations to CRW’s board. Through this process, we have assisted CRW to improve its financial condition and receive an upgrade to its credit rating. We have also helped CRW improve its relationship with its wholesale customers by engaging them in the wastewater cost-of-service and rate-setting process. In addition, we are working on renegotiating CRW’s wastewater inter-municipal agreement with its suburban customers.

Strategic Planning

Raftelis facilitated a strategic planning process with CRW to create an organizational vision and a framework for guiding the utility toward achievement of that vision. The strategic plan effort included the following elements:

  • A clearly articulated and understood vision
  • Definition of CRW’s goals and how their achievement will be measured
  • Allocation of the organization’s financial and operational resources toward achieving those goals
  • Strategies to energize management and staff as a team dedicated to effective implementation and committed to achieving short- and long-term success
  • A process to take corrective action as necessary on an ongoing basis

This process was specifically designed to ensure that significant stakeholder engagement was utilized, as CRW had assumed operation of the City of Harrisburg’s water systems in late 2013 and had just completed a significant rebranding campaign. CRW’s strategic planning process involved input from a broad group of internal and external stakeholders, deep involvement of more than 60 employees in the strategy development process, and consistent communications of CRW’s vision, mission, and overall strategic plan, both internally and externally. The Raftelis team conducted four employee focus groups, hosted a meeting of the Citizen’s Advisory Board, and held interviews with outside stakeholders including environmental groups, regulatory groups, City representatives, and financial stakeholders.

Following the completion of the strategic plan, Raftelis provided assistance to CRW as it works to implement the goals and strategies contained within its strategic plan.