28111397052_9ba2c8739a_o_edited.jpg

Water & Sewer Services

Asset Inventory and Assessment
(for water and wastewater systems)

The Asset Inventory and Assessment (AIA) grants program was created in 2015 and first funding was made available in FY2016.  The LRCOG Local Government Services Division staff has been actively representing our member governments in 2016 and each year since in applying for these important funds. AIA project funding is intended to encourage water and wastewater utilities to become more viable and more proactive in the management and financing of their systems. (DEQ website).

From the LRCOG perspective, the AIA program was a “once in a lifetime’ opportunity to have each of the water/sewer utilities managed by local governments introduced to the asset management process.  Asset Management is a process that includes conducting an inventory and condition assessment of all utility assets, assessing the risk for failure and the likelihood of failure and a mapped interface with the assets. End products consist of Integrated Asset Management Plans with projects or individual assets prioritized for treatment, an updated Capital Improvement Plans, and suggestions for funding to address the capital needs. Asset Management becomes an integral part of the Annual Budget development for the local government.

What We Find.  Old, non-reading water meters and failed clay sewer pipe.
Brass Water Meter.jpg
Brass pipes.jpg
The process for creating a sustainable utility.
  • Follow the FIVE-STEP PROCESS

  • Conduct an Asset Inventory

  • Prioritize the rehabilitation and replacement of your assets

  • Develop an annual estimate of needed reserves and annual budget

  • Implement the Asset Management Plan

  • Reviewing and revising the AMP

  • Develop a goal and a series of milestones that will be done over a period of time.

  • Help prepare the system to address unknown situations and  changes.

  • Focus the use of limited assets on previously defined objectives and projects.

  • Help define ways to improve operations and management of the system.

  • Create a Citizen Committee to help develop the Strategic Plan and follow through to the CIP and the Annual Budget.

  • Develop an "I meant to do that..." view of the system.

  • Create multi-year schedule for making needed improvements to the system.

  • Identify potential funding sources for these improvements.

  • Assess the need for changes to infrastructure rates and rate structure.

  • Use the AMP, SP and CIP to develop the Annual Budget so that the budget contains the needed funds (grants, loans, or rate adjustments) that allow for implementation of strategically identified projects.

Asset
Management Plan

Strategic
Plan

Capital
Improvement Plan

Annual
Budget

Click here for a summary of all AIA applications made over the seven years’ period, when the application was funded and the grant writer/administrator. Work on AIA projects in the region is continuing with application for AIA projects through the Viable Utilities Fund where regional projects can be supported

Merger & Regionalization Feasibility Studies

 

The Merger/Regionalization grants program was also created in 2015 by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. Administered by the Division of Water Infrastructure, the first funding was made available in 2016. Numerous jurisdictions in our region have applied for and received these funds to examine opportunities to combine forces with a neighboring system in order to provide efficient utility service.  The LRCOG has recently received funding for a significant regional wastewater project merger feasibility effort which includes jurisdictions in Bladen, Robeson, and Columbus Counties.

 

The Merger/Regionalization program supports studies to evaluate the potential consolidation or two or more systems into one system into one system and the potential physical interconnection with another system for regional wastewater treatment or regional water supply. (DEQ website)

Water Resources Planning

 

Since the 1990's, we have been active in the area of water resources.   

 

Our work has supported individual communities with specific tasks - such as long range water planning documents, rate studies, customer base evaluations- to a significant investment in regional, sustainable development of our water resources. We are updating many of those older long-range planning documents because they do have relevance for today’s world.  From them we gain a needed perspective on where we started and where we are now.

You are able to link to many of those earlier reports by connecting to our new Information Portal.

The LRCOG has been involved with various aspects of water resources planning over the last 40 years.  As an example, in the early 1990’s, the LRCOG began work with the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the NC Division of Water Resources (NCDWR) to study the region’s ground water resources. Understanding that ground water is one of this region’s most valuable resources, the LRCOG worked to identify and assess gaps in the test well network covering Bladen, Hoke, Richmond, and Robeson Counties within the LRCOG region. A comprehensive, multi-year study was undertaken in the early 2000s that expanded on the USGS work and brought in the NC Division of Water Resources and expanded the study into neighboring Sampson and Columbus Counties. This collaboration grew the well network and resulted in a hydrogeological framework which provided a cross-sectional view of the region’s aquifer system. The study also examined ground water quality and usage by various sectors of use such as agriculture, industrial and public water supply. Over the years, the LRCOG has undertaken additional efforts to maintain and update this information for use in planning and development efforts in the region. For example, in 2018 the LRCOG issued a report updating groundwater usage in the main aquifers in the Southern Coastal Plain.

The LRCOG has also worked with various groups on surface water issues involving the Lumber, Cape Fear and Pee Dee Rivers. Examples include examining mercury levels in municipal wastewater discharge into the Lumber River and the future use of the locks and dams along the Cape Fear River in Bladen County. 

Our efforts in the past decade have been focused on helping our local governments respond to the forces of change in Federal and State regulations, financing needed improvements, and exploring water efficiency options such a regionalization of service and reductions in water loss. To do this, the LRCOG Local Government Services staff is providing direct technical assistance as well as reaching out to secure funding for projects we initiate to undertake projects with regional significance.

Typical Potentiometric Map showing water levels in the Black Creek Aquifer.

NC DoWR Black Creek.png

Customer Base and Rate Analysis

 

The charges made by a jurisdiction for providing water and sewer services should be based on a thorough understanding of the utility and its costs of operation and revenues produced. In addition, an examination of the customer base is necessary in order to understand “which customers are consuming how much”.  By putting these two pictures together, projections for future use and needed charges can be made.

 

Our work in Asset Management described under the AIA program has typically included has included a customer base analysis and rate study. Through this program, our focus has been on educating elected officials on the costs to adequately operate a utility system and the generation of revenues necessary to support that operation.