US Water Alliance & UNC EFC Evaluate Consolidation Impacts

The US Water Alliance and the University of North Carolina’s Environmental Finance Center have partnered to synthesize the body of evidence about the financial outcomes possible with water consolidation.  In a report titled Strengthening Utilities Through Consolidation:  The Financial Impact, the team evaluated eight in-place and operational consolidation options for water and wastewater utilities, looking specifically at context, financial benefits, key considerations, and outcomes derived from their individual approaches.

In framing the discussion, the report is clear that consolidation is just one approach on the spectrum of options for how utilities can work together to provide high quality water service.  The goal here s to fill the gap in current research about the economic attributes associated with different consolidation models. The report also includes a very helpful definition regarding the context of water utility consolidation, principal types of consolidation, and the difference between these and regionalization initiatives or regional agreements.

Consolidation is one of the two issues (readability of Consumer Confidence Reports being the other issue) that EPA is required to finish a rulemaking by October 2020 as part of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA). Under AWIA, states can require a water systems to assess options for consolidation, and DWSRF loans may be used to carry out a consolidation or transfer.