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Basic Water Utility Management & Paying for Water Systems

A 2-part Primer for Local Leaders

March 26, 2019

Part 1: Basic Water Utility Management

Part 2: Paying for Water Systems


As climate change worsens and infrastructure ages, our cities face a number of water-related challenges, from flooding to sewer overflow to drinking water contamination, and more. Cities need resources, and local leaders need to pay attention to their water utilities. There are a lot of things mayors, cities, and utility leaders can do to update their water infrastructure while still keeping rates affordable for the most vulnerable communities.


This 2-part series helps local leaders address these challenges and dives into what cities can do to better understand, upgrade, and finance upgrades in their water systems.


Basic Water Utility Management

Access to safe and affordable drinking water is a human right, and it is the duty of the water utility to ensure that this right is protected and upheld. Understanding the different ways water intersects with your city is critical.


Basic Water Utility Management provides local leaders with a foundation for understanding their local water systems, including:

  • Understanding what a successful water system looks like
  • Getting up to speed on government compliance
  • Identifying infrastructure and maintenance needs
  • Engaging with community members around water resources


Paying for Water Systems

Deepening your understanding of water utility financing as an elected official will enable you to be a stronger advocate for safe, reliable, and equitable water service in cities. Even as the scale of needed investment grows, utilities can develop rate structures, impact fees, and new products or services that generate needed revenue fairly.


Paying for Water Systems provides leaders with a primer on getting started with financing water systems, including:

  • Assessing where the largest costs are incurred and where borrowing is most extensive
  • Understanding your city’s specific water utility structure and financial status
  • Building a relationship with your water utility manager/CEO(s)
  • Reaching out to and growing relationships with community leaders across a range of neighborhoods and interests, and asking questions about needs and water affordability