Central Arkansas Water

Little Rock, Arkansas, United States

Water Rate Study and Operations Efficiency Study 

Central Arkansas Water (CAW) provides water service to approximately 450,000 people. They are addressing rising capital costs while trying to keep customer impacts at a minimum. Historically, CAW was able to cash fund the majority of capital projects, but within the past 10 years, CAW has included several bonds in their funding portfolio to finance capital projects identified through the asset management program.  

In 2011, Raftelis assisted CAW with a comprehensive rate study. Due to lingering effects of the economic recession, particularly in the greater Little Rock region, the rate program was delayed one year. Raftelis resumed work in 2012 with a comprehensive annual update to the 2011 study, and a three-year rate program beginning in FY 2013 was adopted.  

Raftelis was again engaged by CAW for the 2015 comprehensive rate study to develop a four-year rate program from FY 2016 – FY 2019. Raftelis updated and refined the long-term financial plan as well as evaluated current cost of service for customers. Raftelis explored alternative rate structures to determine if any changes should be made to the existing structure that might better address the utility’s current objectives, and ultimately, raising the minimum charge by a higher overall percentage than the volumetric was selected to increase revenue stability.  

Additionally, as part of this study, Raftelis conducted an operations efficiency analysis for the water treatment facility and system pump stations in an effect to enhance operations while still providing the best possible service. 

Effective Utility Management (EUM) Assessment 

In 2007, the CAW Commission hired a new Chief Executive Officer and gave him a strong mandate to develop the organization’s first comprehensive strategic plan. CAW’s strategic planning process coincided with the publication of the EUM Primer, which provided CAW the opportunity to direct its strategic planning process towards the 10 Attributes. CAW developed a strategic planning process which included a new vision, mission statement, values, and six areas of strategic focus. In addition, CAW pursued several other management initiatives including succession planning, asset management, human resources, leadership development, and others.  

Some of the objectives of this assessment were to assure consistency and alignment of recent, current, and planned management initiatives with EUM. CAW staff engaged Raftelis to conduct an independent evaluation to assess the degree to which CAW was implementing and performing all 5 Keys to Success and addressing the 10 Attributes.  

The independent review involved Raftelis conducting several workshops with the CAW management team and lower-level interdisciplinary teams. The results of the workshops were a list of key measures for each of the 10 Attributes as well as a prioritized list of initiatives for CAW to more effectively address the 10 Attributes and 5 Keys to Success. Furthermore, the strategic plan focus areas and the specific strategies were mapped against the EUM Attributes, alignment was evaluated, and consistency was reviewed and documented. 

CAW saw many benefits from this assessment, including: 

  • Education of senior management in the inter-relationships and complexity of water utility management. 
  • An enhanced focus on tying the organization’s strategic plan to the EUM Attributes. 
  • More effective use of teams to address existing processes and prospective projects. 
  • Increased communication across and within departments. 
  • Improved ability to prioritize asset management and capital improvement programs. 
  • Prioritized suggestions for improved performance. 
  • A new focus on a limited number of key measures. 
  • Enhanced capability to seek national awards for excellence in utility management. 
  • Enhanced recognition as a leader in the industry.