The Problem

PIPES AREN’T PERMANENT

 

LIKE MOST OF OUR NATION’S WATER AND WASTEWATER UTILITIES, OUR INFRASTRUCTURE IS AGING AND LEAKING AND IN MUCH NEED OF REPAIR OR REPLACEMENT.

 

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2021 Report Card graded all types of public infrastructure including utility systems. According to this report, “water utilities face a variety of constraints and challenges that were not anticipated when most water infrastructure was designed and built.”

ACCESS TO CLEAN, SAFE WATER IS ESSENTIAL TO KEEP OUR COMMUNITY HEALTHY AND GROWING.

 

Most of us take for granted the importance of reliable water service and the infrastructure that brings it into our homes and businesses until they experience an outage due to a line break.

THE DEMAND FOR WATER

 

The Hallsdale-Powell Utility District service area has seen substantial growth since it’s conception in the year 1954. In the beginning, HPUD provided service to a few customers in rural North Knox County. Today, HPUD provides water and wastewater services to parts of North Knox County, Anderson County and Union County. With approximately 29,400 water connections over a 146 square mile area, the demand for water has greatly increased.

 

THE NEEDS OF EACH WATER UTILITY VARY, AND THE SOLUTIONS ARE NOT ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL.

 

Hallsdale-Powell Utility District’s system is located in a semi mountainous area which presents challenges in design and operations due to the numerous ridges and valleys that split the system. There is an 800-foot difference between the high and low elevations in the service area, representing 346 pounds-per-square inch (psi) difference in water pressure. As a result, distribution operators are challenged maintaining appropriate levels of pressure in 13 distinctly separated regions throughout the service area. Our complex water system is comprised of two treatment plants, 19 pump stations, 13 storage tanks, 7,984 water valves, 2,361 hydrants and approximately 686 miles of pipe.

FUNDING

 

Our water rates fund more than just providing water service. Our rates must cover the cost of operations and maintenance, as well as the repair and replacement of existing infrastructure to keep our water systems reliable and efficient for our current and future customers. In fact, more than half of every utility dollar funds capital projects and infrastructure of which most are regulatory driven, and government mandated.

 

BECAUSE OF THE SUBSTANTIAL COST INVOLVED IN RENEWING AND REPLACING OUR INFRASTRUCTURE, LONG-TERM FINANCING IS NEEDED TO MANAGE THESE INVESTMENTS.

 

Unlike many municipal, state and county entities, HPUD does not receive any money generated from tax revenues and no money from local, state, or federal sources. Like other utility districts, ratepayer funds through customer utility bills are the only source of revenue HPUD receives to pay for these infrastructure improvements. We will continue to seek low cost loans and use other funding strategies to meet these obligations, in order to have the least impact to customers.

OTHER FACTORS

 

IN ADDITION TO THE NEED TO RENEW AND REPLACE AGING AND DETERIORATING INFRASTRUCTURE, THERE ARE OTHER FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO THE RISING COST OF WATER.

 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Public water systems face several challenges including aging infrastructure, increasing regulatory requirements, water quantity and quality concerns and inadequate resources. These challenges may be magnified by changes in population and local climate.”

 

Water Quality:

Additional regulations and changes to existing requirements call for additional processes, projects and technologies which require funds. The EPA estimates the national cost analysis for drinking water regulations to include:

  • Cost of the installation of equipment
  • Operation and maintenance of treatment technologies
  • Compliance monitoring
  • Administrative requirements (for example, reporting, record keeping)
  • The financial cost of the necessary capital

 

The EPA has drinking water regulations for more than 90 contaminants. https://www.epa.gov/ccl

 

Water Loss control:

In addition to leaks caused by aging infrastructure, water can be lost through unauthorized consumption. The Water Audits and Water Loss Control for Public Water Systems is a document provided by the EPA on water loss control and information on the use of water audits in identifying and controlling water losses in public water systems.