Excerpted from an email to the NCFinance listserv:
The Environmental Finance Center recently published results from its study Irrigation Pricing, Policies and Practices in 12 NC utilities.
Visit our web site to see find out how these utilities compare on:
- Irrigation rates
- System impact fees for irrigation meters
- Backflow prevention policies
- Irrigation practices
Municipal irrigation water demand (defined as non-agricultural irrigation demand) presents a host of challenges to water systems. The seasonal nature of this demand drives significant peaks in summertime water use. Because of these peaks, water systems must invest in costly resource and treatment capacity expansion. Moreover, irrigation demand is relatively nonexistent in the winter months and contributes very little to base-load demand and revenue.
In the summer of 2008, the North Carolina General Assembly passed S.L. 2008-143 (the 2008 Drought Bill), requiring water systems operated by local governments and large community water systems to take certain measures in order to better prepare for and manage drought conditions. One such requirement was that “Local government water systems and large community water systems shall require separate meters for new in-ground irrigation systems that are connected to their systems.” This requirement went into effect July 1, 2009. It provides water systems an opportunity to monitor and plan for municipal irrigation water use.
Although the requirement will help local governments monitor and measure irrigation water use, there are other management and financial implications of this requirement that have yet to be fully explored. Our research sought to address some of those implications by comparing the irrigation practices, policies and pricing of twelve of North Carolina’s largest utilities, those in the Urban Water Consortium who funded this study.