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LEADERSHIP

Water Resources Glossary

Aquifer - a porous, water-bearing geologic formation.

 

Basin - land area where precipitation runs off into streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs. It is a land feature that can be identified by tracing a line along the highest elevations (often a ridge) between two areas. Also called a watershed.

 

Bond rating - a numerical figure assigned by the N.C. Municipal Council to a local government’s capacity to assume debt. The rating is based on several indicators of financial health and stability, including budgetary soundness, tax base and demographics. Bond ratings less than 75 on a scale of 1-100 are assessed as more risky for investment. Local governments with those low ratings have limited, if any, access to the private market for financing. Because of the locality’s inability to repay, loans from public agencies also may be difficult to obtain.

 

Bulk water use - sale of a significant quantity of water to another system generally for the purpose of resale.

 

Capacity Use Area - designation by the state Environmental Management Commission of a geographic area where the aggregate use of groundwater or surface water exceeds or threatens to exceed the replenishment rate and thus requires coordination and/or limitations on use.

 

Capital improvement plan - a community plan for short- and/or long-term physical development.

 

Clean water infrastructure - sewer and stormwater systems.

 

Economically distressed - a term assigned to the lowest three tiers of North Carolina’s five-tier rankings for counties. The N.C. Department of Commerce assigns the tiers annually based on several economic indicators.

 

Floodplain - area adjacent to a river or stream subject to periodic flooding. The 100-year floodplain refers to an area likely to be flooded at least once in 100 years.

 

Geographic Information System - a computer hardware and software system that captures, analyzes and displays interrelated and geographically linked data.

 

Groundwater - subsurface water occupying the saturation zone, from which wells and springs are fed. The term applies only to water below the water table.

 

Headwater(s) - source and upper reaches of a stream; also the upper reaches of a reservoir.

 

High unit costs - utility improvements that, spread out over the customer base, would result in combined water and sewer utility rates exceeding 1.5 percent of median household income.

 

Inflow and infiltration (I&I) - the intrusion of groundwater and stormwater into sewer systems, usually through breaks, cracks or failed joints in sewer collection pipes.

 

Infrastructure (water, sewer, and stormwater) - the system of pipes, ditches, channels, etc. that carries water, sewage and stormwater through and under a city.

 

Maintenance - upkeep necessary for efficient operation of physical properties. It involves labor and materials, but is not to be confused with replacement or retirement.

 

Moratorium - an order imposed on utility owners to deny any additional water or sewer connections. Moratoria are most often issued to system owners that have serious, ongoing problems with their treatment capacity or collection systems, resulting in untreated or partially treated sewage being released into public waterways.

 

Operating expenses - expenses necessary for the maintenance, operation and collection of revenue for a specific utility. Some business expenses are excluded from the operating expense category for rate-making purposes if the expenses are not related to the provision of service.

 

Public sewer system - a system of lines that collects wastewater and transports it to a treatment facility. A system may include wastewater treatment and collection or collection only. Regional or interconnected utilities may count as more than one “system” if local governments retain ownership of individual portions.

 

Public water system - a drinking water system that serves at least 25 people or 15 service connections for at least 60 days per year. A system may include drinking water treatment and a distribution network or a distribution network only. Regional or interconnected utilities may count as more than one “system” if local governments retain ownership of individual portions.

 

Rate structures (water or sewer):

Increasing block rate
rates (or prices) applicable to blocks of usage (each 1,000 gallons, for example) in which the block rate increases
as consumption or use increases.
Seasonal uniform rate
rates charging the same amount per unit but with variation according to the season. Most often, this will refer to
a water system that charges more during high-demand summer months.
Uniform rate
a single rate per unit of volume that does not vary with quantity used so, for example, the first gallon is water is priced at the same rate as gallon 5,000.
Declining block rate
rates applicable to blocks of usage (each 1,000 gallons, for example) in which the rate charged decreases as consumption increases.
Flat fee
a fixed charge for service regardless of quantity of use.

Regionalization - adoption of water or sewer improvement projects that are regional in scope. These may range from cooperation by two neighboring towns to multi-county systems.

 

Rural - Counties with a population density of fewer than 200 people per square mile (1990 Census). Of North Carolina’s 100 counties, 85 are rural.

 

Septic system - an onsite treatment system for wastewater, most often belonging to an individual residence or business.

 

Sewage treatment technologies:

Activated sludge
biological treatment process in which a mixture of sewage and activated sludge (produced with the use of bacteria and other organisms) is agitated and aerated. The activated sludge is subsequently separated from the treated sewage by settlement and may be re-used.
Advanced secondary
treatment that begins at the end the secondary settling stage. Among its primary purposes is the removal of excess ammonia, which is toxic to aquatic life. Advanced secondary treatment employs technologies such as trickling filters.
Extented aeration
a process that introduces oxygen to wastewater, promoting the growth of aerobic bacteria to destroys organic compounds in the sewage. Incoming wastewater passes through three progressive stages of treatment before being discharged from the plant.
Lagoons
shallow ponds where sunlight, bacterial action and oxygen work to purify wastewater. Lagoons provide primary treatment for wastewater.
Nutrient removal
an additional step to remove pollutants such as phosphorous or nitrogen that can fuel abnormally high organic growth in aquatic ecosystems.
Secondary
the second stage of wastewater treatment, which removes organic materials and nutrients. This is done with the help of bacteria. The wastewater flows to large, aerated tanks where bacteria consume as much of the solids and nutrients as possible. The remaining solids settle out to the bottom of the tank.
Septic system
an onsite treatment system for sewage involving use of an underground tank, where bacteria in the sewage decompose the organic wastes.
Spray irrigation
the process of collecting water from the top of lagoon ponds and spraying the water on a crop that can absorb (remove) the nutrients from the wastewater.
Tertiary
the third stage of treating sewage or effluents, by removing suspended solids and or pollutants. Typically, the third stage will use chemicals to remove phosphorous and nitrogen from the water, but may also include filter beds and other types of treatment. Chlorine added to the water kills any remaining bacteria. The water is then discharged.

Sewer system I&I correction activities:

Camera inspection
an inspection of sewer collection lines by a remote-controlled video camera.
Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)
a community plan for short- and/or long-term physical development.
Headworks analysis
a study that consists of an evaluation of the wastewater treatment plant’s capability to treat wastewater containing pollutants that can affect the plant’s performance if they are presented in the wasteflow in sufficient concentrations. It is generally conducted in connection with establishing a pretreatment program for local industries that discharge to the plant.
Smoke testing
a process through which smoke canisters are placed in isolated sewer collection lines to detect leaks in the system.
Line inspection and cleaning
regular inspection of sewer collection lines and cleaning of those lines to remove build-up that impedes the flow of wastewater.
Line rehabilitation and replacement
the rehabilitation of sewer collection lines through any of a variety of new technologies for the purpose of sealing the lines. Line replacement generally occurs when the line is too severely compromised to be rehabilitated.
Mapped in GIS (Geographic Information System)
maps integrated into multi-layered computerized databases. This allows the user to define traits for display and to link maps to related information, such as water or sewer system components.

Special Order by Consent - a contractual agreement generally between a sewer system operator or other permit holder and the State of North Carolina, represented by the Environmental Management Commission, to achieve stipulated actions to reduce, eliminate or prevent water quality degradation. Limits set for particular environmental standards may be relaxed under an SOC for the time determined reasonable to make the necessary improvements.

 

Surface Water - all the water visible on the surface, in rivers, lakes, ponds, creeks, estuaries, etc.

 

Stormwater - the portion of rainfall that runs off the property and does not soak into the ground.

 

Treated (finished) water - raw water obtained from supply sources and treated to produce potable (drinking-quality) water.

 

Urban - counties with a population density of 200 people per square mile or greater (1990 Census). Fifteen of North Carolina’s 100 counties are urban.

 

Water reuse and conservation - measures to reduce water use and/or effluent going into public waterways from wastewater treatment plants. Water conservation may be as simple as low-flow toilets and showerheads. Water reuse, or recyling, typically involves reusing partially treated wastewater for beneficial purposes, such as irrigation, industrial processes or toilet flushing.

 

Water system water loss correction activities:

Leak detection program
a program whereby one of a number of technologies is employed to determine where leaks exist in water distribution lines.
Valve exercise program
a process whereby water valves are regularly checked to determine that they are properly functioning and capable of being opened and closed.
Meter replacement program
a program whereby water meters are replaced or recalibrated on a regular schedule so that water is appropriately metered.
Leak detection study
a search for leaks in the system, usually done when the percentage of unaccounted for water is high.

Wastewater - water that has been used in homes, industries, and businesses that is not for reuse unless it is treated.

 

Water budget - calculation of the inflow, outflow, and storage of groundwater and surface water for a basin or water resources unit to determine the availability of water.

 

Water table - the upper surface of the zone of saturation closest to the ground surface.

Rural Center Early Water Projects

 

From its earliest days, the Rural Center recognized the importance that plentiful clean water and the infrastructure to support it both play in the economic success and quality of life in rural North Carolina. For this reason, it has taken a leading role in public policy initiatives designed to assist rural communities in developing and expanding water and sewer infrastructure. The Water 2030 Initiative built on this legacy.

 

Public policy research and advocacy

Rural Center initiatives have paved the way for new and expanded programs to improve clean water infrastructure. In the process, some have established national precedents.

 

"Who'll Foot the Bill?"

The center's creation in 1987 coincided with changes to the federal Clean Water Act that reduced grant funding for water and wastewater improvements. One of its first research reports "The Waste Crunch in Rural North Carolina: Who'll Foot the Bill?" found that, absent grant programs, 88 percent of rural communities could not afford much-needed wastewater construction projects. Neither their tax base nor revenue from user fees was adequate to qualify for public or private loan programs. In response to the report, the General Assembly in 1990 expanded eligibility for the state's Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund to more low-wealth communities and communities without sewer systems.

 

"Living Without the Basics"

In May 1990, the Rural Center and the North Carolina Rural Communities Assistance Project released another eye-opening report. "Living Without the Basics: The Hidden Water and Wastewater Crisis in Rural North Carolina" documented the startling number of North Carolinians 250,000  living in homes without complete indoor plumbing. Minorities, the poor and the elderly were most affected. The report brought state and national attention to the public health and environmental problems caused by inadequate plumbing and to the need for creative solutions to the infrastructure financing problem.

 

As recognition of the issues increased, the state of North Carolina took additional action. The General Assembly established two programs to help small, low-wealth rural communities with water and sewer improvements. The Supplemental Grants Program was created to help those communities provide required matching funds for other state and federal infrastructure programs. The Capacity Building Grants Program assisted local governments with the planning phase of water and sewer projects. Both programs, administered by the Rural Center, have been funded continuously since 1993. In a separate measure, the N.C. Division of Community Assistance designated $1 million in grants to eliminate outhouses by rehabilitating 50 homes.

 

"Our Livelihood, Our Life”

As the center worked with the state and rural communities on water and wastewater issues, it realized serious inadequacies in available information on existing infrastructure. Estimates of needed improvements, for example, were based on data collected in the 1970s. In answer, the center launched the groundbreaking North Carolina Water and Sewer Initiative. The three-year initiative included an in-depth assessment of 659 water and sewer systems in 75 predominantly rural counties and resulted in the nation's first comprehensive, standardized information base on a state's public community water and sewer systems. The initiative identified $11.34 billion in investments in water and sewer systems needed over the next 20 years. This doubled previous estimates.

 

The 1998 report "Clean Water: Our Livelihood, Our Life" documented the findings of the initiative and outlined a number of recommendations, including a clean water bonds proposal and encouragement of regional solutions to water and sewer needs. Two other publications resulting from the initiative -- a guide to financing for system owners and local government officials and a report tracking actual funding for water and sewer projects -- continue to be updated periodically.

 

The report also served as a blueprint for state action. Rural Center staff collaborated with state lawmakers in writing a bill proposing the 1998 Clean Water Bonds referendum and advocating its passage. North Carolina voters overwhelmingly approved the bonds that November. The referendum authorized $800 million in investments to address critical water and wastewater projects, including funds designated for the Rural Center's Supplemental and Capacity Building Grants Programs and for a new Unsewered Communities Grants Programs, also to be administered by the center. Learn the bonds accomplished. Link to Impact of 1998 Clean Water Bonds.

 

"Water Woes"

More recently, the center has turned its attention to the supply of fresh water. Throughout most of its history, North Carolina has been a water-rich state, with abundant surface and ground water. This is changing, however, as a growing population places additional demands on a finite resource. In 2002, alarm over dwindling aquifers in the east forced the state to establish the Central Coastal Plain Capacity Use Area and to adopt rules requiring 11 counties to reduce ground water withdrawals by 25 percent within six years.

 

Working with leaders from 15 counties in the capacity use area, the Rural Center sought to identify ways affected communities could adapt to the new restrictions. As part of the effort, the center commissioned two studies. One examined the region's aquifers, their storage capacity and replenishment rates. The second addressed the economic impact of the new rules. The resulting report, "Water Woes in Eastern North Carolina: Facing the Facts, Reaching Solutions," summarized those findings and offered a number of recommendations, from developing new surface water systems to exploring water reuse and stepping up water conservation efforts statewide.

 

Community-based research and demonstration

As its major initiatives have addressed broad public policy questions, the Rural Center's research and demonstration grants have assisted local communities and organizations addressing more specific needs. The largest of these grants  $700,000  went to the Neuse Regional Water and Sewer Authority to conduct pilot tests for a new regional water plant and system. The proposed system was in response to rules governing the Central Coastal Plain Capacity Use Area. Other projects funded by the R&D program have included:

  • a study of wastewater disposal needs for economic growth in four rural counties
  • a research project of the N.C. Rural Communities Assistance Project www.ncrcap.org looking at alternative septic systems. The project resulted in two "Considering the Alternatives" publications, one a guide for wastewater management in small communities and the other for on-site wastewater systems.
  • a feasibility study of water and sewer alternatives for eastern Bladen and Columbus counties
  • a feasibility study for a five-county sewage system by the Lumber River Council of Governments
  • a feasibility study of regional water resources in Albemarle County
  • the Installment Purchase Pilot Project, testing whether grant assistance could help low-income communities acquire private financing for infrastructure improvements

 

Infrastructure grants programs

Through its water and sewer grants program, the Rural Center manages the state's largest infrastructure grants portfolio. Each program has a different emphasis, but all assist low-income communities with investments that further public health, environmental protection and/or economic development.

 

 

Water 2030 Overview

 

The purpose of Water 2030 was to determine North Carolina’s water resource needs for the next 25 years and provide sound information on which to make policy decisions. The N.C. Rural Economic Development Center launched the $2.5 million effort in March 2004 with state and national partners.

 

Background

In the coming years, North Carolinians will be called upon to make unprecedented decisions about water resources. Although the state has long been considered water rich, indications abound that the resource can no longer be taken for granted. In the coastal plain, for example, dwindling aquifers are forcing groundwater users in several counties to reduce withdrawals. In the western Piedmont, population growth is outpacing the flow of the region's rivers. All told, one-quarter of the state's public water systems expect to approach the limit of their water supply by 2010. That prospect appeared near at hand in 2002, when a four-year drought left several communities on the brink of running out of water and 54 counties were declared agricultural disaster areas.

 

As water use increases, so do challenges to the supply of fresh water. Excessive nutrients and other pollutants threaten surface and groundwater systems while development overloads stormwater collection systems and destroys wetlands that once served as natural filters.

 

North Carolina's continued prosperity depends on protecting its water resources in ways that balance many competing demands, including:

  • A growing population. North Carolina’s population — now 8.5 million — is expected to exceed 12 million by the year 2030.
  • Natural ecosystems and industries that depend on natural resources. North Carolina's seafood industry alone is valued at $100 million, and recreation and ecotourism industries are growing.
  • New industries. Many of the state's emerging industries, such as pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, are heavily dependent on clean water.

 

The initiative

The Water 2030 Initiative built on previous work by federal and state agencies, local governments, university researchers and nonprofit organizations. In 1972 and ‘73, for example, Congress passed groundbreaking legislation that led to cleaner rivers, lakes and streams; federal aid for construction of municipal wastewater treatment plants; and safety standards for drinking water. The North Carolina General Assembly made its own clean water history in 1989, becoming the first (and so far only) state in the nation to mandate the creation of state and local water supply plans. That same year, the legislature also passed a law requiring the creation of minimum statewide standards for watershed protection. In the next decade, North Carolina went on to establish the Clean Water Management Trust Fund to finance projects that address water pollution; to launch an environmental protection planning process for the state's 17 major river basins; and to adopt a wetlands restoration program to improve water quality in those basins.

 

The Rural Center's earlier work also forms part of this background. Initial studies led to the creation of grants programs to help low-income communities finance water and sewer construction. Then in 1998, the center released the results of a three-year investigation that revealed $11.3 billion in needed water and sewer system improvements statewide. This was based on an in-depth assessment of 659 water and sewer systems in 75 predominantly rural counties and projections for the remaining 25 counties. Data on the water and sewer systems were then incorporated into the database of the state Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, creating a visual, interactive tool for policy makers and economic development officials. The center’s investigation gave impetus to the passage of the North Carolina Clean Water Bond Act of 1998, which provided $800 million for local water and sewer projects.

 

The Water 2030 Initiative was designed to assist North Carolinians in making the next set of critical decisions about water resource. It included:

 

Data collection. Water 2030 updated and expanded on the 1998 findings, covering all 100 counties and studying stormwater systems and flood hazards in addition to water and sewer infrastructure.

 

Water supply and demand projections. As a further measure, the initiative analyzed water supply and demand through the year 2030. Calculations of the available supply included precipitation, dependable yield from aquifers, water reservoirs and elevated storage. Analysis of the demand for water ranged from evaporation and human use to runoff, pollution and contamination.

 

Analysis of available funding. An analysis of the 1998 Clean Water Bonds revealed where and how the money was spent and its impact. The center also charted annual funding for water and sewer projects statewide from all sources for the years 1995 through 2005.

 

Public education and outreach. Throughout the Water 2030 process, the Rural Center sought to inform policymakers and citizens about the state's water resources and infrastructure, helping them become better prepared for participation in public policy discussions. These efforts included both statewide and regional briefings, held in cooperation with the directors of the state's 17 Councils of Government.

 

Advocacy. Based on the findings of the Water 2030 Initiative, the Rural Center made seven key recommendations for action to ensure that North Carolinians, in every area of the state, will have access to ample supplies of clean water well into the future.

 

Funding and partners

A wide range of partners and collaborators joined the Rural Center to make the Water 2030 Initiative possible. State and local agencies provided more than $2.5 million in funding. Directors of North Carolina's 11 regional Councils of Government played a critical role as liaisons with local government and as conveners of informational meetings. Three consulting engineering companies performed the technical work. An advisory committee representing business, agriculture, economic development, environmental protection, and national, state, and local governments provided oversight. A separate technical committee provided advice on water resources, law, geographic information systems, and government operations. Learn more.

 

Water 2030

Funding and Partners

Funders

North Carolina Congressional Delegation 

North Carolina's representatives in Washington worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to secure a $1.2 million grant in support of the Water 2030 Initiative.

 

N.C. General Assembly

As part of its ongoing support for water and sewer programs, the General Assembly appropriated $400,000 to support the Water 2030 Initiative.

 

North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund

Created in 1996, the fund makes grants to local governments, state agencies and nonprofits to help finance projects that address water pollution problems. It awarded the center a $500,000 grant for the Water 2030 Initiative.

 

North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center

The center contributed $400,000 to support the Water 2030 Initiative.

 

Consultants

N.C. Association of Regional Councils

The association of the state's 17 councils of governments served as the project's liaison with local government managers, public utility directors and major industrial public water users statewide. Members organized informational meetings for local government officials in advance of the project, served as trouble-shooters for research consultants, and convened regional meetings for the release of project findings.

 

N.C. Center for Geographic Information and Analysis

CGIA provided geographic information systems services to support the Water 2030 Initiative, with special focus on quality assurance and quality control for digital data pertaining to water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure in all 100 North Carolina counties.

 

AMEC Earth and Environmental, Inc.

AMEC conducted the water resources inventory and developed water supply and demand projections for Water 2030.

 

Hobbs, Upchurch & Associates, P.A.

Hobbs, Upchurch & Associates collected and analyzed water, sewer and stormwater information for 48 counties: Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Durham, Edgecombe, Franklin, Gates, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Hoke, Hude, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Matin, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Tyrrell, Vance, Wake, Warren, Washington, Wayne and Wilson.

 

McGill Associates, P.A.

McGill collected and analyzed water, sewer and stormwater information for 52 counties: Alamance, Alexander, Alleghany, Anson, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Caswell, Catawba, Chatham, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Gaston, Graham, Granville, Guilford, Haywood, Henderson, Iredell, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Montgomery, Orange, Person, Polk, Randolph, Richmond, Rockingham, Rowan, Rutherford, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Union, Watauga, Wilkes, Yadkin and Yancey.

 

Advisory Committee

The advisory committee brought to the Water 2030 Initiative the expertise of people representing economic development, agriculture, the environment, education, and business and industry. The committee met twice, in March and November 2004, during the first phase of the project.  Members were:

 

David Thompson, Executive Director, N.C. Association of County Commissioners

Rolf Blizzard, Vice President, N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry

Ralph Clark, City Manager, Kinston, Neuse River Water and Sewer Authority

Britt Cobb, Commissioner, N.C. Department of Agriculture

John Cooper, State Director, Rural Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Jim Fain, Secretary, N.C. Department of Commerce

Bill Gibson, Chair, Infrastructure Committee, N.C. Rural Center

Ellis Hankins, Executive Director, N.C. League of Municipalities

Bill Holman, Executive Director, Clean Water Management Trust Fund

Preston Howard, President, Manufacturers and Chemical Industry Council

James Leutze, Chancellor Emeritus, The University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Beau Mills, Director of Intergovernmental Relations, N.C. Metropolitan Coalition

Richard Moore, State Treasurer, N.C. Department of State Treasurer

Jimmy Palmer, Regional Administrator, EPA: Region IV

James Perry, Chief Administrator, Lumber River Council of Governments

Bill Ross, Secretary, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Mikki Sager, Executive Director, The Conservation Fund

John Peterson, Executive Director, Economic Developers Association

Paul Wilms, Director of Governmental Affairs, Home Builders Association

Larry Wooten, President, N.C. Farm Bureau

Billy Ray Hall and Jeans Crews-Klein, Co-Chairs, Rural Economic Development Center

 

Technical Committee

Members of the technical committee provided guidance on specific aspects of the Water 2030 Initiative. Their expertise included such areas as water resources, law, geographic information systems and government. The technical committee met monthly during the project. Members were:

 

Ray Batchelor, Planning, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

George Givens, Staff Attorney, North Carolina Legislature

Tim Johnson, Director, N.C. Center for Geographic Information and Analysis

John Morris, Director, Division of Water Resources, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Gerry Ryan, District Chief, Water Resources, U.S. Geological Survey

Richard Spruill, Associate Professor, Department of Geology, East Carolina University

Richard Whisnant, Associate Professor of Public Law and Government, Institute of Government, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

 

 

Water 2030 Initiative

 

Water 2030 was a statewide water resources initiative to ensure that North Carolinians in every part of the state have access to ample supplies of clean water. It ran from 2004 through 2006. The initiative produced extensive information on the state’s public infrastructure and long-term water supply and engaged leaders and citizens in discussions about North Carolina’s water future. The Rural Center continues to advocate state action in response to these findings.

 

The Findings

 

Conclusions and Recommendations

The Rural Center called for a new $1 billion bond referendum to finance needed infrastructure improvements throughout the state.

 

Impact of the 1998 Clean Water Bonds

The 1998 Clean Water Bonds had a major impact on North Carolina’s economy, health and environment.

 

Trends in Water and Sewer Financing

Declining funds for infrastructure raise serious challenges for North Carolina’s future.

 

Water, Sewer and Stormwater Capital Needs

North Carolina’s public water, sewer and stormwater utilities will require investments totaling $16.63 billion by 2030.

 

Background

 

Water 2030 Overview

Learn more about the initiative and the Rural Center’s record of research and investments in water and sewer issues.

 

Water Resources Glossary

Find definitions of terms often used in discussions of water and sewer issues.

 

 

LEADERSHIP

Water Resources Glossary

Aquifer - a porous, water-bearing geologic formation.

 

Basin - land area where precipitation runs off into streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs. It is a land feature that can be identified by tracing a line along the highest elevations (often a ridge) between two areas. Also called a watershed.

 

Bond rating - a numerical figure assigned by the N.C. Municipal Council to a local government’s capacity to assume debt. The rating is based on several indicators of financial health and stability, including budgetary soundness, tax base and demographics. Bond ratings less than 75 on a scale of 1-100 are assessed as more risky for investment. Local governments with those low ratings have limited, if any, access to the private market for financing. Because of the locality’s inability to repay, loans from public agencies also may be difficult to obtain.

 

Bulk water use - sale of a significant quantity of water to another system generally for the purpose of resale.

 

Capacity Use Area - designation by the state Environmental Management Commission of a geographic area where the aggregate use of groundwater or surface water exceeds or threatens to exceed the replenishment rate and thus requires coordination and/or limitations on use.

 

Capital improvement plan - a community plan for short- and/or long-term physical development.

 

Clean water infrastructure - sewer and stormwater systems.

 

Economically distressed - a term assigned to the lowest three tiers of North Carolina’s five-tier rankings for counties. The N.C. Department of Commerce assigns the tiers annually based on several economic indicators.

 

Floodplain - area adjacent to a river or stream subject to periodic flooding. The 100-year floodplain refers to an area likely to be flooded at least once in 100 years.

 

Geographic Information System - a computer hardware and software system that captures, analyzes and displays interrelated and geographically linked data.

 

Groundwater - subsurface water occupying the saturation zone, from which wells and springs are fed. The term applies only to water below the water table.

 

Headwater(s) - source and upper reaches of a stream; also the upper reaches of a reservoir.

 

High unit costs - utility improvements that, spread out over the customer base, would result in combined water and sewer utility rates exceeding 1.5 percent of median household income.

 

Inflow and infiltration (I&I) - the intrusion of groundwater and stormwater into sewer systems, usually through breaks, cracks or failed joints in sewer collection pipes.

 

Infrastructure (water, sewer, and stormwater) - the system of pipes, ditches, channels, etc. that carries water, sewage and stormwater through and under a city.

 

Maintenance - upkeep necessary for efficient operation of physical properties. It involves labor and materials, but is not to be confused with replacement or retirement.

 

Moratorium - an order imposed on utility owners to deny any additional water or sewer connections. Moratoria are most often issued to system owners that have serious, ongoing problems with their treatment capacity or collection systems, resulting in untreated or partially treated sewage being released into public waterways.

 

Operating expenses - expenses necessary for the maintenance, operation and collection of revenue for a specific utility. Some business expenses are excluded from the operating expense category for rate-making purposes if the expenses are not related to the provision of service.

 

Public sewer system - a system of lines that collects wastewater and transports it to a treatment facility. A system may include wastewater treatment and collection or collection only. Regional or interconnected utilities may count as more than one “system” if local governments retain ownership of individual portions.

 

Public water system - a drinking water system that serves at least 25 people or 15 service connections for at least 60 days per year. A system may include drinking water treatment and a distribution network or a distribution network only. Regional or interconnected utilities may count as more than one “system” if local governments retain ownership of individual portions.

 

Rate structures (water or sewer):

Increasing block rate
rates (or prices) applicable to blocks of usage (each 1,000 gallons, for example) in which the block rate increases
as consumption or use increases.
Seasonal uniform rate
rates charging the same amount per unit but with variation according to the season. Most often, this will refer to
a water system that charges more during high-demand summer months.
Uniform rate
a single rate per unit of volume that does not vary with quantity used so, for example, the first gallon is water is priced at the same rate as gallon 5,000.
Declining block rate
rates applicable to blocks of usage (each 1,000 gallons, for example) in which the rate charged decreases as consumption increases.
Flat fee
a fixed charge for service regardless of quantity of use.

Regionalization - adoption of water or sewer improvement projects that are regional in scope. These may range from cooperation by two neighboring towns to multi-county systems.

 

Rural - Counties with a population density of fewer than 200 people per square mile (1990 Census). Of North Carolina’s 100 counties, 85 are rural.

 

Septic system - an onsite treatment system for wastewater, most often belonging to an individual residence or business.

 

Sewage treatment technologies:

Activated sludge
biological treatment process in which a mixture of sewage and activated sludge (produced with the use of bacteria and other organisms) is agitated and aerated. The activated sludge is subsequently separated from the treated sewage by settlement and may be re-used.
Advanced secondary
treatment that begins at the end the secondary settling stage. Among its primary purposes is the removal of excess ammonia, which is toxic to aquatic life. Advanced secondary treatment employs technologies such as trickling filters.
Extented aeration
a process that introduces oxygen to wastewater, promoting the growth of aerobic bacteria to destroys organic compounds in the sewage. Incoming wastewater passes through three progressive stages of treatment before being discharged from the plant.
Lagoons
shallow ponds where sunlight, bacterial action and oxygen work to purify wastewater. Lagoons provide primary treatment for wastewater.
Nutrient removal
an additional step to remove pollutants such as phosphorous or nitrogen that can fuel abnormally high organic growth in aquatic ecosystems.
Secondary
the second stage of wastewater treatment, which removes organic materials and nutrients. This is done with the help of bacteria. The wastewater flows to large, aerated tanks where bacteria consume as much of the solids and nutrients as possible. The remaining solids settle out to the bottom of the tank.
Septic system
an onsite treatment system for sewage involving use of an underground tank, where bacteria in the sewage decompose the organic wastes.
Spray irrigation
the process of collecting water from the top of lagoon ponds and spraying the water on a crop that can absorb (remove) the nutrients from the wastewater.
Tertiary
the third stage of treating sewage or effluents, by removing suspended solids and or pollutants. Typically, the third stage will use chemicals to remove phosphorous and nitrogen from the water, but may also include filter beds and other types of treatment. Chlorine added to the water kills any remaining bacteria. The water is then discharged.

Sewer system I&I correction activities:

Camera inspection
an inspection of sewer collection lines by a remote-controlled video camera.
Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)
a community plan for short- and/or long-term physical development.
Headworks analysis
a study that consists of an evaluation of the wastewater treatment plant’s capability to treat wastewater containing pollutants that can affect the plant’s performance if they are presented in the wasteflow in sufficient concentrations. It is generally conducted in connection with establishing a pretreatment program for local industries that discharge to the plant.
Smoke testing
a process through which smoke canisters are placed in isolated sewer collection lines to detect leaks in the system.
Line inspection and cleaning
regular inspection of sewer collection lines and cleaning of those lines to remove build-up that impedes the flow of wastewater.
Line rehabilitation and replacement
the rehabilitation of sewer collection lines through any of a variety of new technologies for the purpose of sealing the lines. Line replacement generally occurs when the line is too severely compromised to be rehabilitated.
Mapped in GIS (Geographic Information System)
maps integrated into multi-layered computerized databases. This allows the user to define traits for display and to link maps to related information, such as water or sewer system components.

Special Order by Consent - a contractual agreement generally between a sewer system operator or other permit holder and the State of North Carolina, represented by the Environmental Management Commission, to achieve stipulated actions to reduce, eliminate or prevent water quality degradation. Limits set for particular environmental standards may be relaxed under an SOC for the time determined reasonable to make the necessary improvements.

 

Surface Water - all the water visible on the surface, in rivers, lakes, ponds, creeks, estuaries, etc.

 

Stormwater - the portion of rainfall that runs off the property and does not soak into the ground.

 

Treated (finished) water - raw water obtained from supply sources and treated to produce potable (drinking-quality) water.

 

Urban - counties with a population density of 200 people per square mile or greater (1990 Census). Fifteen of North Carolina’s 100 counties are urban.

 

Water reuse and conservation - measures to reduce water use and/or effluent going into public waterways from wastewater treatment plants. Water conservation may be as simple as low-flow toilets and showerheads. Water reuse, or recyling, typically involves reusing partially treated wastewater for beneficial purposes, such as irrigation, industrial processes or toilet flushing.

 

Water system water loss correction activities:

Leak detection program
a program whereby one of a number of technologies is employed to determine where leaks exist in water distribution lines.
Valve exercise program
a process whereby water valves are regularly checked to determine that they are properly functioning and capable of being opened and closed.
Meter replacement program
a program whereby water meters are replaced or recalibrated on a regular schedule so that water is appropriately metered.
Leak detection study
a search for leaks in the system, usually done when the percentage of unaccounted for water is high.

Wastewater - water that has been used in homes, industries, and businesses that is not for reuse unless it is treated.

 

Water budget - calculation of the inflow, outflow, and storage of groundwater and surface water for a basin or water resources unit to determine the availability of water.

 

Water table - the upper surface of the zone of saturation closest to the ground surface.

Rural Center Early Water Projects

 

From its earliest days, the Rural Center recognized the importance that plentiful clean water and the infrastructure to support it both play in the economic success and quality of life in rural North Carolina. For this reason, it has taken a leading role in public policy initiatives designed to assist rural communities in developing and expanding water and sewer infrastructure. The Water 2030 Initiative built on this legacy.

 

Public policy research and advocacy

Rural Center initiatives have paved the way for new and expanded programs to improve clean water infrastructure. In the process, some have established national precedents.

 

"Who'll Foot the Bill?"

The center's creation in 1987 coincided with changes to the federal Clean Water Act that reduced grant funding for water and wastewater improvements. One of its first research reports "The Waste Crunch in Rural North Carolina: Who'll Foot the Bill?" found that, absent grant programs, 88 percent of rural communities could not afford much-needed wastewater construction projects. Neither their tax base nor revenue from user fees was adequate to qualify for public or private loan programs. In response to the report, the General Assembly in 1990 expanded eligibility for the state's Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund to more low-wealth communities and communities without sewer systems.

 

"Living Without the Basics"

In May 1990, the Rural Center and the North Carolina Rural Communities Assistance Project released another eye-opening report. "Living Without the Basics: The Hidden Water and Wastewater Crisis in Rural North Carolina" documented the startling number of North Carolinians 250,000  living in homes without complete indoor plumbing. Minorities, the poor and the elderly were most affected. The report brought state and national attention to the public health and environmental problems caused by inadequate plumbing and to the need for creative solutions to the infrastructure financing problem.

 

As recognition of the issues increased, the state of North Carolina took additional action. The General Assembly established two programs to help small, low-wealth rural communities with water and sewer improvements. The Supplemental Grants Program was created to help those communities provide required matching funds for other state and federal infrastructure programs. The Capacity Building Grants Program assisted local governments with the planning phase of water and sewer projects. Both programs, administered by the Rural Center, have been funded continuously since 1993. In a separate measure, the N.C. Division of Community Assistance designated $1 million in grants to eliminate outhouses by rehabilitating 50 homes.

 

"Our Livelihood, Our Life”

As the center worked with the state and rural communities on water and wastewater issues, it realized serious inadequacies in available information on existing infrastructure. Estimates of needed improvements, for example, were based on data collected in the 1970s. In answer, the center launched the groundbreaking North Carolina Water and Sewer Initiative. The three-year initiative included an in-depth assessment of 659 water and sewer systems in 75 predominantly rural counties and resulted in the nation's first comprehensive, standardized information base on a state's public community water and sewer systems. The initiative identified $11.34 billion in investments in water and sewer systems needed over the next 20 years. This doubled previous estimates.

 

The 1998 report "Clean Water: Our Livelihood, Our Life" documented the findings of the initiative and outlined a number of recommendations, including a clean water bonds proposal and encouragement of regional solutions to water and sewer needs. Two other publications resulting from the initiative -- a guide to financing for system owners and local government officials and a report tracking actual funding for water and sewer projects -- continue to be updated periodically.

 

The report also served as a blueprint for state action. Rural Center staff collaborated with state lawmakers in writing a bill proposing the 1998 Clean Water Bonds referendum and advocating its passage. North Carolina voters overwhelmingly approved the bonds that November. The referendum authorized $800 million in investments to address critical water and wastewater projects, including funds designated for the Rural Center's Supplemental and Capacity Building Grants Programs and for a new Unsewered Communities Grants Programs, also to be administered by the center. Learn the bonds accomplished. Link to Impact of 1998 Clean Water Bonds.

 

"Water Woes"

More recently, the center has turned its attention to the supply of fresh water. Throughout most of its history, North Carolina has been a water-rich state, with abundant surface and ground water. This is changing, however, as a growing population places additional demands on a finite resource. In 2002, alarm over dwindling aquifers in the east forced the state to establish the Central Coastal Plain Capacity Use Area and to adopt rules requiring 11 counties to reduce ground water withdrawals by 25 percent within six years.

 

Working with leaders from 15 counties in the capacity use area, the Rural Center sought to identify ways affected communities could adapt to the new restrictions. As part of the effort, the center commissioned two studies. One examined the region's aquifers, their storage capacity and replenishment rates. The second addressed the economic impact of the new rules. The resulting report, "Water Woes in Eastern North Carolina: Facing the Facts, Reaching Solutions," summarized those findings and offered a number of recommendations, from developing new surface water systems to exploring water reuse and stepping up water conservation efforts statewide.

 

Community-based research and demonstration

As its major initiatives have addressed broad public policy questions, the Rural Center's research and demonstration grants have assisted local communities and organizations addressing more specific needs. The largest of these grants  $700,000  went to the Neuse Regional Water and Sewer Authority to conduct pilot tests for a new regional water plant and system. The proposed system was in response to rules governing the Central Coastal Plain Capacity Use Area. Other projects funded by the R&D program have included:

  • a study of wastewater disposal needs for economic growth in four rural counties
  • a research project of the N.C. Rural Communities Assistance Project www.ncrcap.org looking at alternative septic systems. The project resulted in two "Considering the Alternatives" publications, one a guide for wastewater management in small communities and the other for on-site wastewater systems.
  • a feasibility study of water and sewer alternatives for eastern Bladen and Columbus counties
  • a feasibility study for a five-county sewage system by the Lumber River Council of Governments
  • a feasibility study of regional water resources in Albemarle County
  • the Installment Purchase Pilot Project, testing whether grant assistance could help low-income communities acquire private financing for infrastructure improvements

 

Infrastructure grants programs

Through its water and sewer grants program, the Rural Center manages the state's largest infrastructure grants portfolio. Each program has a different emphasis, but all assist low-income communities with investments that further public health, environmental protection and/or economic development.

 

 

Water 2030 Overview

 

The purpose of Water 2030 was to determine North Carolina’s water resource needs for the next 25 years and provide sound information on which to make policy decisions. The N.C. Rural Economic Development Center launched the $2.5 million effort in March 2004 with state and national partners.

 

Background

In the coming years, North Carolinians will be called upon to make unprecedented decisions about water resources. Although the state has long been considered water rich, indications abound that the resource can no longer be taken for granted. In the coastal plain, for example, dwindling aquifers are forcing groundwater users in several counties to reduce withdrawals. In the western Piedmont, population growth is outpacing the flow of the region's rivers. All told, one-quarter of the state's public water systems expect to approach the limit of their water supply by 2010. That prospect appeared near at hand in 2002, when a four-year drought left several communities on the brink of running out of water and 54 counties were declared agricultural disaster areas.

 

As water use increases, so do challenges to the supply of fresh water. Excessive nutrients and other pollutants threaten surface and groundwater systems while development overloads stormwater collection systems and destroys wetlands that once served as natural filters.

 

North Carolina's continued prosperity depends on protecting its water resources in ways that balance many competing demands, including:

  • A growing population. North Carolina’s population — now 8.5 million — is expected to exceed 12 million by the year 2030.
  • Natural ecosystems and industries that depend on natural resources. North Carolina's seafood industry alone is valued at $100 million, and recreation and ecotourism industries are growing.
  • New industries. Many of the state's emerging industries, such as pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, are heavily dependent on clean water.

 

The initiative

The Water 2030 Initiative built on previous work by federal and state agencies, local governments, university researchers and nonprofit organizations. In 1972 and ‘73, for example, Congress passed groundbreaking legislation that led to cleaner rivers, lakes and streams; federal aid for construction of municipal wastewater treatment plants; and safety standards for drinking water. The North Carolina General Assembly made its own clean water history in 1989, becoming the first (and so far only) state in the nation to mandate the creation of state and local water supply plans. That same year, the legislature also passed a law requiring the creation of minimum statewide standards for watershed protection. In the next decade, North Carolina went on to establish the Clean Water Management Trust Fund to finance projects that address water pollution; to launch an environmental protection planning process for the state's 17 major river basins; and to adopt a wetlands restoration program to improve water quality in those basins.

 

The Rural Center's earlier work also forms part of this background. Initial studies led to the creation of grants programs to help low-income communities finance water and sewer construction. Then in 1998, the center released the results of a three-year investigation that revealed $11.3 billion in needed water and sewer system improvements statewide. This was based on an in-depth assessment of 659 water and sewer systems in 75 predominantly rural counties and projections for the remaining 25 counties. Data on the water and sewer systems were then incorporated into the database of the state Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, creating a visual, interactive tool for policy makers and economic development officials. The center’s investigation gave impetus to the passage of the North Carolina Clean Water Bond Act of 1998, which provided $800 million for local water and sewer projects.

 

The Water 2030 Initiative was designed to assist North Carolinians in making the next set of critical decisions about water resource. It included:

 

Data collection. Water 2030 updated and expanded on the 1998 findings, covering all 100 counties and studying stormwater systems and flood hazards in addition to water and sewer infrastructure.

 

Water supply and demand projections. As a further measure, the initiative analyzed water supply and demand through the year 2030. Calculations of the available supply included precipitation, dependable yield from aquifers, water reservoirs and elevated storage. Analysis of the demand for water ranged from evaporation and human use to runoff, pollution and contamination.

 

Analysis of available funding. An analysis of the 1998 Clean Water Bonds revealed where and how the money was spent and its impact. The center also charted annual funding for water and sewer projects statewide from all sources for the years 1995 through 2005.

 

Public education and outreach. Throughout the Water 2030 process, the Rural Center sought to inform policymakers and citizens about the state's water resources and infrastructure, helping them become better prepared for participation in public policy discussions. These efforts included both statewide and regional briefings, held in cooperation with the directors of the state's 17 Councils of Government.

 

Advocacy. Based on the findings of the Water 2030 Initiative, the Rural Center made seven key recommendations for action to ensure that North Carolinians, in every area of the state, will have access to ample supplies of clean water well into the future.

 

Funding and partners

A wide range of partners and collaborators joined the Rural Center to make the Water 2030 Initiative possible. State and local agencies provided more than $2.5 million in funding. Directors of North Carolina's 11 regional Councils of Government played a critical role as liaisons with local government and as conveners of informational meetings. Three consulting engineering companies performed the technical work. An advisory committee representing business, agriculture, economic development, environmental protection, and national, state, and local governments provided oversight. A separate technical committee provided advice on water resources, law, geographic information systems, and government operations. Learn more.

 

Water 2030

Funding and Partners

Funders

North Carolina Congressional Delegation 

North Carolina's representatives in Washington worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to secure a $1.2 million grant in support of the Water 2030 Initiative.

 

N.C. General Assembly

As part of its ongoing support for water and sewer programs, the General Assembly appropriated $400,000 to support the Water 2030 Initiative.

 

North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund

Created in 1996, the fund makes grants to local governments, state agencies and nonprofits to help finance projects that address water pollution problems. It awarded the center a $500,000 grant for the Water 2030 Initiative.

 

North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center

The center contributed $400,000 to support the Water 2030 Initiative.

 

Consultants

N.C. Association of Regional Councils

The association of the state's 17 councils of governments served as the project's liaison with local government managers, public utility directors and major industrial public water users statewide. Members organized informational meetings for local government officials in advance of the project, served as trouble-shooters for research consultants, and convened regional meetings for the release of project findings.

 

N.C. Center for Geographic Information and Analysis

CGIA provided geographic information systems services to support the Water 2030 Initiative, with special focus on quality assurance and quality control for digital data pertaining to water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure in all 100 North Carolina counties.

 

AMEC Earth and Environmental, Inc.

AMEC conducted the water resources inventory and developed water supply and demand projections for Water 2030.

 

Hobbs, Upchurch & Associates, P.A.

Hobbs, Upchurch & Associates collected and analyzed water, sewer and stormwater information for 48 counties: Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Durham, Edgecombe, Franklin, Gates, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Hoke, Hude, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Matin, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Tyrrell, Vance, Wake, Warren, Washington, Wayne and Wilson.

 

McGill Associates, P.A.

McGill collected and analyzed water, sewer and stormwater information for 52 counties: Alamance, Alexander, Alleghany, Anson, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Caswell, Catawba, Chatham, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Gaston, Graham, Granville, Guilford, Haywood, Henderson, Iredell, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Montgomery, Orange, Person, Polk, Randolph, Richmond, Rockingham, Rowan, Rutherford, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Union, Watauga, Wilkes, Yadkin and Yancey.

 

Advisory Committee

The advisory committee brought to the Water 2030 Initiative the expertise of people representing economic development, agriculture, the environment, education, and business and industry. The committee met twice, in March and November 2004, during the first phase of the project.  Members were:

 

David Thompson, Executive Director, N.C. Association of County Commissioners

Rolf Blizzard, Vice President, N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry

Ralph Clark, City Manager, Kinston, Neuse River Water and Sewer Authority

Britt Cobb, Commissioner, N.C. Department of Agriculture

John Cooper, State Director, Rural Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Jim Fain, Secretary, N.C. Department of Commerce

Bill Gibson, Chair, Infrastructure Committee, N.C. Rural Center

Ellis Hankins, Executive Director, N.C. League of Municipalities

Bill Holman, Executive Director, Clean Water Management Trust Fund

Preston Howard, President, Manufacturers and Chemical Industry Council

James Leutze, Chancellor Emeritus, The University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Beau Mills, Director of Intergovernmental Relations, N.C. Metropolitan Coalition

Richard Moore, State Treasurer, N.C. Department of State Treasurer

Jimmy Palmer, Regional Administrator, EPA: Region IV

James Perry, Chief Administrator, Lumber River Council of Governments

Bill Ross, Secretary, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Mikki Sager, Executive Director, The Conservation Fund

John Peterson, Executive Director, Economic Developers Association

Paul Wilms, Director of Governmental Affairs, Home Builders Association

Larry Wooten, President, N.C. Farm Bureau

Billy Ray Hall and Jeans Crews-Klein, Co-Chairs, Rural Economic Development Center

 

Technical Committee

Members of the technical committee provided guidance on specific aspects of the Water 2030 Initiative. Their expertise included such areas as water resources, law, geographic information systems and government. The technical committee met monthly during the project. Members were:

 

Ray Batchelor, Planning, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

George Givens, Staff Attorney, North Carolina Legislature

Tim Johnson, Director, N.C. Center for Geographic Information and Analysis

John Morris, Director, Division of Water Resources, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Gerry Ryan, District Chief, Water Resources, U.S. Geological Survey

Richard Spruill, Associate Professor, Department of Geology, East Carolina University

Richard Whisnant, Associate Professor of Public Law and Government, Institute of Government, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

 

 

Water 2030 Initiative

 

Water 2030 was a statewide water resources initiative to ensure that North Carolinians in every part of the state have access to ample supplies of clean water. It ran from 2004 through 2006. The initiative produced extensive information on the state’s public infrastructure and long-term water supply and engaged leaders and citizens in discussions about North Carolina’s water future. The Rural Center continues to advocate state action in response to these findings.

 

The Findings

 

Conclusions and Recommendations

The Rural Center called for a new $1 billion bond referendum to finance needed infrastructure improvements throughout the state.

 

Impact of the 1998 Clean Water Bonds

The 1998 Clean Water Bonds had a major impact on North Carolina’s economy, health and environment.

 

Trends in Water and Sewer Financing

Declining funds for infrastructure raise serious challenges for North Carolina’s future.

 

Water, Sewer and Stormwater Capital Needs

North Carolina’s public water, sewer and stormwater utilities will require investments totaling $16.63 billion by 2030.

 

Background

 

Water 2030 Overview

Learn more about the initiative and the Rural Center’s record of research and investments in water and sewer issues.

 

Water Resources Glossary

Find definitions of terms often used in discussions of water and sewer issues.