Charlotte Water

Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

Financial and Rate Consulting

Raftelis has assisted Charlotte Water since 1994 on various water and sewer financial planning and rate assignments. We developed one of the first rate models used by Charlotte Water to update rates and assist with financial planning. In addition, over the past several decades, we have assisted Charlotte Water in implementing a number of revisions to its water and wastewater rate structure, including the following:

  • A tiered water rate structure designed to encourage conservation and recover the additional costs of meeting high demands.
  • Stepping up conservation efforts by revising the usage thresholds of the water rate tiers based on updated consumption data.
  • A comprehensive revision of the methodology used to calculate certain industrial waste charges.
  • Amending the sewer cap that applied to multi-family customers to recognize that the average per capita usage for multi-family customers is lower than the typical residential usage.
  • Making additional modifications to the tiered rate structure to encourage conservation, including increasing the number of rate tiers from three to four, and revising the number of rate tiers applicable to irrigation meters and swimming pool accounts.
  • Completing a New Water Demand Offset Fee Study to help create sustainable, zero water footprint from new development. The New Water Demand Offset Fees were designed to create potable water savings in the existing system to support water demand generated by new developments. The study was completed, and the results were presented to Charlotte Water’s Board in the same month.
  • Implementing the addition of a fixed monthly availability fee to recover a portion of annual debt service costs.
  • Developing surcharge rates for carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand and chemical oxygen demand.
  • Making several changes to the Revenue Manual, including increasing the availability and capacity fees to help stabilize revenues, and eliminating the subsidy included in the Tier 1 rates.

Throughout these rate updates, our team examined many different rate approaches, calculated the costs and impacts of implementing them, and participated in meetings with staff, the client’s Advisory Council, and the public to discuss the new recommended approaches. Raftelis facilitated a public input process by forming a stakeholder advisory group that consisted of representatives of residential customers in various neighborhoods across the service areas, as well as business representatives from the community. We conducted more than 15 public and stakeholder meetings to obtain customer feedback pertaining to the rate structure. We assisted Charlotte Water in obtaining Council approval for a modified rate structure methodology that included an enhanced lifeline rate, water conservation incentives, and sewer billing based on average winter consumption. Additionally, Raftelis has assisted Charlotte Water in performing risk analysis on its revenue stream, assisted with rate modeling, analyses, results, professional recommendations, public outreach and communications support, presentations to stakeholder advisory groups, and subcommittees of City Council. We have fostered a strong working relationship with Charlotte Water staff and have successfully delivered on our engagements.

Strategic Planning

Equity. Sustainability. Resilience. As the main focus areas of the City of Charlotte’s (City) 2020 Budget, these goals are critical as Charlotte continues to grow and flourish as a richly diverse community. Very few services provided by the City have as much influence as water service, and it was critical that Charlotte Water’s strategic plan both reflect and advance these goals. Raftelis was engaged to facilitate Charlotte Water’s strategic plan through an inclusive process that was designed to build on and amplify the voices of its customers, through listening and public engagement sessions; its region, through interviews with each of the municipalities served by the utility; and its employees, through focus groups, interviews, a survey, and active participation in different aspects of the process. Along the way, employees were kept up to date on the strategic plan progress and the results of activities were shared at each step to keep the employees of this large organization engaged. The resulting strategic plan highlights a focused vision and mission, as well as the priority areas that Charlotte Water will focus on for the next five years to move the organization forward. Clear communication of the strategic plan and successful implementation are both high priorities for Charlotte Water. Raftelis has assisted the organization through the communication roll-out of the plan and the first year of implementation to ensure the plan becomes part of day-to-day operations.

View Strategic Plan


Bill Redesign

Our client at Charlotte Water had one goal: that “no one will be surprised when they get their freshly redesigned bill in the mail.” Raftelis took that direction seriously, and designed a multi-pronged marketing campaign to raise awareness of the reasons why customer bills had undergone a significant facelift, and to share the benefits of the greater level of detail present on the redesigned bills. Through careful monitoring and evaluation, we succeeded in our goal and received kudos from many fronts, while collecting very few complaints.