Lakeview Road is open! Charlotte Water (CLTWater) recently removed the closure and traffic measures along Statesville Road near Lakeview Road, as crews worked on a large water main opening along the roadway.
The work, related to the Water Transmission Mains Improvement & Repairs (WTMIR) Program, began Monday, July 24, and lasted a couple weeks. While traffic measures like detours and lane closures are sometimes frustrating, they are necessary for the safety of work crews and the public. In this case, the water main work happened parallel to other construction activities in the area. Thus, protecting people as well as the project was a priority.
Planning for any construction project while continuing to maintain access for nearby businesses, residents and motorists, can be complicated. It also takes a team effort. Before the project work begins, CLTWater collaborates closely with several different groups, such as state and city partners like NCDOT, CDOT, and other construction projects, to compare traffic plans and discuss ways to mitigate potential impacts as best as possible. This is all part of the important work CLTWater continues to do daily to provide clean, safe and reliable water across the Charlotte region.
Protecting and strengthening the CLTWater system is an important part of the daily work crews do. In the Fiscal Year 2024 budget, Charlotte Water designated millions of dollars towards the systemwide repairs and improvements, designed to update some of the oldest infrastructure throughout the system.
In 2015, CLTWater completed a Water Transmission Mains Assessment, which evaluated some high-risk pipe composition across the water system that could need replacement. Transmission mains are the highways of water distribution; they are large pipes that convey water from pump stations or treatment plants to the neighbor distribution water lines. Since 2019, additional assessments identified various improvements needed to optimize the function and resiliency of the existing water transmission system.
The WTMIR Program is a combination of various replacement and installation projects across the water system, grouped under an umbrella of work designed to improve the water system. The Program is broken down into Zone Areas throughout the CLTWater service area. Each Zone Area will consist of various design and construction projects, which may or may not occur simultaneously.
The importance of the WTMIR Program is to ensure water continues to flow to customers and reduces future emergency repairs that lead to unplanned water outages and traffic disruption.
Work has already been completed in several areas along Old Statesville Road, with upcoming work along Peachtree Rd, Oakdale Rd and other areas expected later this year.
Charlotte is a rapidly growing city, in an equally rapidly expanding region. Investments in vital resources and infrastructure will not only support that growth but allow everyone to have a quality of life that is only capable through access to a safe, clean and reliable water system. Each of the 1,200 Charlotte Water system employees work hard to support that vision. Charlotte Water does this by increasing capacity through improvement and enhancement projects and by working 24/7/365 to maintain, repair and replace foundational infrastructure across the region.
Why are Water Rates Increasing?
Charlotte Water is legally required to operate as a “cost-of-service provider.” This means, as a utility, CLTWater must strictly use fees and rates to support, maintainand grow the water system. That requires us to operate as good water stewards and as a business operation that does not make a profit, but also can not legally operate at a loss.
Charlotte Water does not use property tax or sales tax to operate or fund capital improvements. The Charlotte Water system is supported entirely by water and sewer rates and fees paid by customers. Each dollar in rates has a specific purpose in how it goes to work in the water system. These rates allow Charlotte Water to:
Provide clean, safe and reliable drinking water
Maintain more than 9,000 miles of water and wastewater pipes
Rehabilitate, replace, and invest in aging infrastructure
Exceed regulatory requirements
Support regional growth
Safely transport and treat wastewater
To achieve this, each year, Charlotte Water systematically evaluates its existing infrastructure, upcoming capital needs (such as capacity), and other industry and economic variables. This helps determine if a rate adjustment is necessary. Potential adjustments are presented to the City Council, explaining how each dollar will be used and where it will go. If City Council approves, the new rates typically go into effect in July of that year. “FY,” or fiscal year, is identified as July of the current year into June of the following year.
For FY2024, (July 2023- June 2024) Charlotte Water rates will increase an average of 4.25% , which equals approximately a $3.10monthly increase for average Charlotte Water residential customer bills.
To learn more about the 2024 rates and fees, visit our webpage.
How are Rate Adjustments Decided/Calculated?
CLTWater uses a nationally-recognized rate consultant to evaluate and audit our rate model. This complex model uses many variables, such as regulatory, personnel, industry costs, etc., to create a ten-year projection.
Capital Improvement Plan
A large part of rates are used towards investing and funding Charlotte Water’s Capital Improvement Projects (CIP). Each year, CLTWater identifies and prioritizes several projects that are needed within a five-year period. Projects selected must meet certain requirements, such as fulfilling capacity needs, supporting future development, or improving the quality of life for the community.
The goal of the CIP is to:
Line up with CLTWater’s Mission and Vision to serve customers
Identify the right projects
Identify the funding needs
Maintain consistent annual funding levels
Ensure financial viability
Balance our goals against supporting municipal vision plans, economic development and regulatory requirements
For the fiscal year 2024-2028, CLTWater plans to invest $2.63 Billionback into the community’s utility. The investment can be broken down into key groups:
Capacity for Growth $1.5B to expand and upsize pipes and plants to maintain service for a growing community
Rehab and Replacement $645M to replace some of the oldest infrastructure
Regulatory Requirements $279M to complete projects related to new state or federal regulations
Commitments to Public Projects $115M to relocate pipes before NCDOT, City of Charlotte, or town-funded projects
Utility Support $70M towards advancement in technology, security and updates to current facilities
Lawsuit Settlement Update
Charlotte Water previously shared with media and customers that a recent lawsuit settlement would impact the CIP program and possibly lead to a higher-than-normal rate adjustment in July. (You can learn more by reading the blog article here.)
Since January 2023, Charlotte Water restructured the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to instead absorb the lawsuit damages. This means the settlement costs will not be passed along to customers as previously proposed.
FY 24 Industrial Sewer Rates
CLTWater recently worked with a utility consulting firm to complete a rate study and better understand our rates and cost of treatment. During the evaluation, we learned some of the industrial sewer rates had not been updated since 2011. This meant a rate recovery was needed for:
increased costs of treatment
treatment plant improvements
operational costs and program costs
Industrial Fees are different than regular customer sewer rates because industries usually have different/stronger compositions of certain chemicals. Treatment plants are designed and regulated for domestic (residential) strength wastewater.
Each industry/business is unique in its usage and discharge. For most commercial and utility users, your bill is calculated based on how much water you use and your wastewater composition. In general, the more you use, the more you pay. For monitored industries, the higher the concentration of chemical oxygen demand (COD), total suspended solids (TSS) or ammonia discharged, the more you will pay.
Non-monitored industries, e.g., breweries and restaurants, incur the high strength volume charge.
To mitigate the impact of the rate recovery, rates are proposed to increase in three phases:
July 1, 2023
January 1, 2024
Incremental increases annually expected to start July 1, 2024
To learn more about the different industrial and commercial rates, view these one-pagers below.
Charlotte Water Cares
CLTWater is always looking for ways to connect customers to resources and available financial aid programs. We work closely with several community partners, including Crisis Assistance and the Department of Social Services, to connect residents to resources. Learn more about our “Dream Team” by reading our blog article.
Financial assistance is available for families in need. Charlotte Water encourages customers to contact 3-1-1 or visit charlottewater.org to learn more about the many financial assistance programs available.
As part of the ongoing partnership with local communities, the Stowe Regional Project team continues to engage with the local Whitewater schools. During the month of May, CLTWater staff and Stowe team members participated in several activities at the school.
On May 3, CLTWater made a big splash at the Whitewater Middle School Career Fair. This STEM magnet school has been a great neighbor to our new Stowe Regional Water Resource Recovery Facility. CLTWater representatives from Engineering, Field Operations, Customer Service, Laboratory, Learning and Development, and Stowe contractors met with students to talk about career opportunities and what it’s like to work in the water industry.
The Career Day also provided the Stowe Team with an opportunity to meet schoolteachers and staff to begin planning for ESTEM education (environmental, science, technology, engineering and math) opportunities in the 2023-24 school year.
Water Week Celebration 2023
On May 6, over 60 Charlotte Water staff, 7 external exhibitors, and over 400 members of the public celebrated Drinking Water Week at the Quest Center in Huntersville. It was a day of education and celebration to recognize all of the hard work that goes into bringing safe, clean, and reliable water services to our community.
The free, open-to-the-public, family fun day included indoor and outdoor activities and our Water Wagon’s re-launch! Director Angela Charles greeted the public and conveyed the importance of Drinking Water Week in our community. To formally kick of Water Week, Charles read the proclamation that signifies Charlotte’s dedication to clean water for everyone. Attendees of the celebration enjoyed yard games, face painting, snack vendors, information booths and more. External partners included Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, Stormwater Services, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Sustain Charlotte, Carolina Raptor Center, Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, and 811.
Thank you to all those at Charlotte Water who made this event a huge success. It takes a tremendous amount of teamwork to safely gather hundreds of people for a festival and engage meaningfully. Many members of the public (including Miss Huntersville!) conveyed how impressed they were with our engaging and kind staff.
On-going Charlotte Water and DSS Collaboration
On May 7, CLTWater and Department of Social Services’ (DSS) representatives attended a Community Baby Shower sponsored by District 2 PHA OES and non-profit organization Dream Xperience. The recipients of the baby shower goods were young & pregnant mothers in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Charlotte.
During the event, Dee, Charlotte Water’s Financial Aid Program Coordinator and DSS liaison was there to assist members of the public with their water bills. Dee looked up water accounts, explained bills, enrolled customers in payment plans if needed and let customers know what agencies in the community help with water bills. DSS provided applications and information for guests to apply for and receive information about DSS resources.
All excess baby supplies were donated to Angel House Maternity Home.
Charlotte Water and DSS will continue to look for opportunities such as this one to help connect residents who may need help to resources and assistance.
Stowe visits Whitewater Middle School for concert
On May 9, Whitewater Middle School held their year-end orchestra band concert. The Stowe Team attended to provide backpacks, water bottles, and activity books to students as well as project information to parents. This type of outreach has been performed during a variety of extra-curricular activities throughout the school year to engage different groups of parents and students.
Stowe at RiverFest in Belmont, hosted by Catawba Riverkeeper
On May 13, the Stowe Project team went to Belmont and had an awesome time attending RiverFest. The Stowe project team talked to about 200 attendees about the new Stowe facility, the partnership with Gaston County, and how it would benefits the northwest communities and residents. Display boards illustrated how wastewater pipelines had been installed connecting Mount Holly to the new Stowe Facility, as well as the location of the new Belmont Pump Station and the Paw Creek Pump Station it will connect to, in order to inform residents about routing and construction process. We are thankful for our partners at the Catawba Riverkeepers, for inviting us.
Charlotte Water and its contractors have begun construction on the Clarke Creek Pump Station and Force Main Project. Wastewater generated from portions of Northeastern Mecklenburg County currently flows to the Water & Sewer Authority of Cabarrus County (WSACC). Due to an increase in development and demand in the area, it is necessary to build a new facility to divert a portion of the Clarke Creek Basin flow to the McDowell Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant instead.
Pumping a portion out of the Clarke Creek Basin will allow for new development to continue and will ensure ongoing, reliable service for CLTWater customers.
A Public Meeting was held on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library: North County Regional to discuss the project and answer questions. A copy of the presentation that was reviewed during this meeting can be reviewed below.