El Paso Water Utilities

El Paso, Texas, United States

The El Paso Public Service Board (El Paso Water) provides water, sanitary sewer, reclaimed and stormwater service to more than 700,000 people in a relatively arid area that typically receives only nine inches of rainfall per year. The city’s daytime population “swells” due to the influx of workers. Historically, a groundwater-reliant water system, the utility has diversified its sources to include surface water and the largest inland desalination plant to treat brackish groundwater. Raftelis professionals have been assisting El Paso Water since 1989 through a series of separate engagements.

Performance Improvement Services

Raftelis has provided El Paso Water with an array of organizational consulting services to optimize the organization’s performance. During Phase 1, Raftelis helped redesign of the organization, conducted a two-day workshop to define business needs, and developed an action plan and scope for implementation services. Phase 2 services included comprehensive organization optimization activities, which involved extensive interviews within each division, followed by a report recommending alternative organizational structures and identified areas for improvement. Following a series of scenario workshops with the executive team, Raftelis professionals defined the best organizational model for El Paso’s needs and completed the Phase 2 report.

El Paso adopted the new organizational structure and subsequently retained Raftelis for Phase 3 work, including organizational development and design consulting services associated with a review of the utility’s capital improvement plan and other technical services within the utility. Raftelis also developed a senior leadership training program to address leadership succession for the utility, and performed a compensation survey comparing the classifications of top management positions such as the CEO and Assistant Manager.

Financial Services

Raftelis assisted El Paso Water with completing a review of alternative water rate structures evaluating changes to the structures implemented in the early 1990s. This project resulted in proposed rates implemented March 1, 2015, that included the introduction of a variable water use threshold where ¾-inch service customers with monthly use at three hundred cubic feet (CCF) and higher would be assessed a water supply replacement charge and customers with use below 3 CCF would not be assessed the charge. A Access based rate model was developed as part of the project that enables El Paso Water to include all water customers, evaluate alternative rate structures, project revenues and monthly bill impacts from changes to the water rate structure.

Raftelis completed a follow up update for proposed water, sewer, reclaimed and stormwater rates. As part of this project, Raftelis evaluated monthly service charges, volume water sales and rate adjustments to generate enough water, sewer, reclaimed and stormwater revenues. Raftelis also updated El Paso Water financial planning and rate models, developed user manuals summarizing user input and completed training session with users.

Raftelis completed a water and wastewater impact fee study update for the utilities including presentations to an impact fee advisory committee. During the impact fee study update, Raftelis assisted in the definition of the service components to be included in the fees, development of growth projections and associated water and sewer demands and prepared the fee development and analysis. Raftelis helped El Paso Water implement water and wastewater impact fees.

Raftelis annually updates El Paso Water’s financial planning, cost-of-service and rate development for wholesale customers, most recently completed in March 2016.

Other Services

Following historic floods in 2006, Raftelis completed a stormwater feasibility study and subsequently successfully implemented the new utility based on the city’s decision to have El Paso Water assume responsibility for stormwater management. The implementation included creation of the parcel billing platform, preparation of a rate and financial planning study, and assistance in the public input and support campaign. Raftelis successfully defended a challenge to the legality of the rate structure.