Utility Directors are, as a rule, an independent group. Their main focus is on delivering quality water to their customers at an affordable cost. The only good rate increase is a planned one and that is with begrudging acceptance. Planned rate increases pay for higher operational costs. But the smaller the utility, the smaller the customer base, and the more those rate increases hurt. When there is an event like a system outage or broken pipe, it’s possible that contingency funds can cover those expenses, but not always.
Once again, utilities, big and small, in rural and urban areas, are hit with the bill for infrastructure, water quality failures, compliance failures, and new water supply development.
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Big and Small Utilities
Big utilities typically have the resources necessary, or access to those resources to anticipate issues and manage them. But small, rural, and economically disadvantaged utilities are likely at greater risk. Their needs, in proportion to their resources, do not add up. What do they need, and how can it be paid for? A facility assessment is needed, as well as a system assessment, an operational assessment, and a financial assessment. Collectively these are technical assessments. Each utility will be different, as will their needs and resources.
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How does a small, rural, or economically disadvantaged community get from where they are to where they need to be?
The answer is technical assistance. Anser Advisory has the experience to provide technical assistance to utilities of any size. If a small utility cannot afford to maintain their system in compliance, cannot afford essential maintenance, and cannot afford to assess their needs, how can they afford technical assistance? There are funding sources available to utilities with special set-asides for small, rural systems and those funds can be used to acquire technical assistance. Anser Advisory can help identify and apply for that funding.
Visit waterworks4texas.com today to learn more.
About the Authors
Leader, Government Services Group, Anser Advisory
Known as a man who gets things done, Robert Sheets has spent a professional lifetime helping advance the goals of local governments. His relationships with local, regional, and state governments, as well as the Department of Defense, have been instrumental in establishing public-private partnerships with a triple bottom line: good for the community, good for business, and good for the environment.
Water Policy Consultant, Anser Advisory
Rubinstein is an expert on Texas water policy. As chairperson of the Texas Water Development Board (2013-2015) he oversaw the implementation of the $2 billion State Water Infrastructure Fund. (SWIFT). He is a Board Member of the Texas Water Foundation and the Texas Water Trade. Rubinstein has served as the Texas representative to the Western States Water Council, and the Border Governors' Conference Sustainable Development worktable. Rubinstein served as a commissioner of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) from 2009–2013. He is a former deputy executive director of TCEQ and Rio Grande Watermaster. Rubinstein has appeared as an expert witness on various environmental cases and has published several peer-reviewed articles on Texas water policy. He is a former city manager for the City of Brownsville. Rubinstein earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Pan American University.