All posts by Erin McNeely

Additional Pre-Covid Billing Operations to Resume in January 2023

With the new year, there are a few notable changes coming to Charlotte Water (CLTWater). CLTWater has slowly been returning to pre-Covid billing operations, and some of these processes have already been implemented. Beginning January 2023, customers can expect disconnection and reconnection fees ($17 each) to resume.  Also in January, late fees, which are 1.5% of past-due charges, will begin and will appear on February bills.

Charlotte Water continues to look for ways to help customers who need help with their water bills get connected to resources. At the beginning of the pandemic, CLTWater policies were temporarily changed or suspended.  As financial aid programs, CARES Act funding and City grants became available, CLTWater worked closely with community partners like Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (DSS), Housing and Neighborhood Services, and local non-profits community groups such as DreamKey Partners, Crisis Assistance Ministries and Commonwealth Charlotte, to connect thousands of customers with financial aid assistance.

One such financial assistance program was the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP). This federal program was designed specifically for customers who were in danger of having their water service disconnected due to outstanding balances. To better help residents, CLTWater and DSS met regularly and worked intensely to streamline the process of receiving federal funding and distributing the aid directly to customer accounts who qualified. CLTWater was the only utility in the state to auto-match customers with LIHWAP financial assistance.

By implementing this process, and because of the successful partnership with DSS, thousands of Charlotte-Mecklenburg area residents received financial assistance. In just the first round of funding, CLTWater and DSS allocated more than $1.3 million to CLTWater customers, approximately 19% of all LIHWAP funds distributed statewide. The number of outstanding or delinquent CLTWater accounts at risk of disconnection dropped by the thousands, and more federal funding is expected.

Today, CLTWater and DSS representatives continue to meet weekly to keep the process running smoothing, discussing everything from how people are learning about different aid programs, how many accounts are in need of aid, and the best communication strategies to keep the public informed. By working with DSS, CLTWater customers that are in need of water bill assistance can also learn about other utility assistance and housing assistance programs offered by DSS, such as Low Income Energy Assistance Program.

As CLTWater slowly moves back to normal operations, assistance is still available for customers in need of financial help during this time.  Visit CharlotteWater.org, or call 311, and get connected to a variety of resources. 

Award-Winning Utility: Utility of the Future Today

We’re honored to be recognized by the Water Environment Federation (WEF) as a Utility of the Future Today! This is Charlotte Water’s fifth time receiving this recognition, and we are one of 34 utilities being recognized in 2022. This program recognizes utilities that exhibit sustainability and resilience in the communities they serve.

Earlier this week, on Tuesday, October 11, Charlotte Water Director Angela Charles received the award during the Water Environment Federation’s Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) ceremony. 

“Charlotte Water’s organizational culture is one of sustainability both now and for the future, embracing innovation, inspiration, and leadership in our community,” said Charles. “We will continue to follow our Charlotte Water Vision: To be a leading water utility recognized for excellence and dedicated to our people, community, region, and environment.”

The Utility of the Future Today Recognition Program seeks to reach deeply into the water sector to form and motivate a community of like-minded water utilities engaged in advancing resource efficiency and recovery, developing proactive relationships with stakeholders, and establishing resilient, sustainable, and livable communities. The Recognition Program, through the aggregation and sharing of utility advancements and experiences, will enable participants across a broad continuum of capacities and capabilities to learn from each other and continually grow and sustain their efforts to be, and continually advance the concept of, the Utility of the Future. (www.wef.org)

We are so proud of the great work our utility has accomplished this year, and we will continue our hard work to be an award-winning utility in 2023.

For more information about our awards, please visit the awards page on our website, and to learn more about WEF and the Utility of the Future Today award, visit their website here.

Angela Charles Selected as 2022 WEF Fellow

Image of Angela Charles, Charlotte Water Director

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) has selected Angela Charles as a member of the class of 2022 WEF Fellows. Angela is one of 14 distinguished members in the 2022 class.

This prestigious designation honors members’ contributions to the water sector as well as their professional achievements and stature. WEF Fellows are recognized in various areas of expertise including design, education, operations, regulation, research, utility management, and leadership.

The WEF Fellows were honored at WEFTEC 2022 during the WEF Awards and Presidential Celebration Ceremony on Tuesday, October 11.

Angela Charles is the Director of Charlotte Water, and has been in the water industry since 1988. 

“Angela is a valuable leader in Charlotte Water. She has been instrumental in affecting change and improving processes for nearly 1 million customers throughout Charlotte and Mecklenburg County,” said City Manager Marcus D. Jones.   

As director, Angela is responsible for the regional, countywide water treatment and distribution, wastewater treatment and collection, utilities planning, and the City’s stormwater system, along with management activities. She leads a staff of approximately 1,200 employees, and Charlotte Water maintains more than 9,000 miles of pipelines and over 300,000 water connections countywide. 

Angela holds a Master of Public Administration degree from UNC Charlotte and a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from North Carolina State University. She was the 2017 chair of the North Carolina American Water Works Association and North Carolina Water Environment Association (NC AWWA-WEA) and is a Grade A water distribution operator. Angela has served on many committees including the WEF Collection Systems Committee and has received many water industry awards, including the WEF Collections Systems Award, the Warren G. Fuller Award, and the prestigious Arthur Sidney Bedell Award. 

Employee Spotlight: O’Brien Walls

This employee spotlight features Flemming “O’Brien” Walls who just celebrated 40 years of working for Charlotte Water. O’Brien currently works as a Planner Scheduler in the Field Operations Division, and in this Q&A session, he shares with us what his career path has looked like over these past 40 years, and recognizes those who have helped to shape his career.

O’Brien Walls, Case Manager in 1998

Tell us about yourself and how your career began with Charlotte Water?

I’m happily married, Debbie and I have five grown adults and seven adorable grandkids. We attend Millennium Temple Baptist Church where I serve as chair trustee. I graduated from West Charlotte High School back in 1979 and continued my education for two years at The Winston Salem State University. I joined the City of Charlotte Utilities Wastewater Collections Division on December 9, 1981, as a Laborer I. While there my parents advised me to always check the vacancy sheet, and with me knowing I was starting from the bottom, my motivation was to learn all that I could because I knew I aspired to be in management one day.

Can you provide an overview of your career path with Charlotte Water?

I quickly started climbing my career ladder. In 1983 I was promoted to Laborer II and transferred over to the Customer Service Division off of Patton Avenue. In 1988, I became a Water Service Technician, and then my next move was into the supervisory position in 1989 as a Crew Chief I. In 1996, I became a Crew Chief II Large Meter Maintenance Supervisor, where I supervised four of our two-men crews that were responsible for keeping our commercial water meters running accurately. In 1998 I became a Case Manager where I was responsible for two Water Quality Technicians and half of the county water quality, and high- and low-pressure complaints. Lastly, in 2004, I transitioned to my current position as a Planner Scheduler in Field Operations.

O’Brien Walls, in 1989 and 1996

What do you love the most about your job?

The enjoyment of working for CLTWater and the public, the camaraderie at CLTWater, the stability in this industry, and my personal growth.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve seen on the job?

The main break we had several years ago on Freedom Drive where the street buckled up for approximately a quarter of a mile; it looked like an earthquake had commenced.

What is your favorite memory of working with Charlotte Water?

My co-workers and managers; I have met a plethora of friends that have become family!

Throughout my tenure I’ve had several mentors and influential people that I would like to mention: Curtis Mingo, Jean McClain, Dowd Yandle, William Mason, Charles Pluchinsky, Angela Charles, Ed Dehlin, Claudette Beatty, Kelly Dixon, Marion Sanders, and David “Doc” St. Laurent.