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Water & Wastewater Resources

Click the links below for more information on each topic.


National Rural Water Association Newsletters: Rural Water Wire
Arroyo Newsletter
EPA Cross-Connection Control: Best Practices
Sustainability Dashboard
Water Safety & Arsenic Information
Disinfection of Byproducts
Groundwater Rules and Updates
MTBE
Good Water Habits
Perchlorate
State Drinking Water & Wastewater Regulations
Rate Study
The Great Rates Game Plan


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Arroyo Newsletter

Arroyo is a publication of the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Water and energy are fundamental components of our 21st century life, but they can no longer be considered separately. Just as producing energy consumes water, pumping, treating and distributing water requires energy. In other words, water is an energy issue; energy is a water issue. Called the water-energy nexus, this interrelationship is beginning to receive the attention it merits. This Arroyo aims to provide comprehensive and timely information to support the public discussion of this important topic.
Click here to view the Arroyo Newsletter
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Sustainability Dashboard

Knowing the current and future financial status of your water system is an integral part of responsible management and of the highest importance to leaving the system in better condition for the next generation. The Environmental Finance Center’s Financial Dashboard will give a clear and powerful picture of how the system is currently performing, areas of improvement and what the future outlook is. After inputting information for each of the dashboards, you will be given a fully interactive tool that will allow for a limitless number of different scenarios.

The Financial Dashboard was created by The Boise State University Environmental Finance Center and developed under funding provided by the US EPA. The Financial Dashboard information was presented by speaker Bill Jarocki at the NRWA Annual Conference.

Financial Dashboard Home Page

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Water Safety & Arsenic Information

Documentation and information about arsenic for the Arizona Public Water System.
Arsenic In Your Drinking Water
Arsenic Facts for Consumers
Arsenic Information for Arizona Public Water Systems
Arizona Point of Use Compliance Program
Arsenic Master Plan Summary Report
Arsenic and Clarifications to Compliance and New Source Montoring Rule: A Quick Reference Guide
Arsenic Compliance Policy
Executive Summary

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Disinfection of Byproducts

Stage 1 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule: A Quick Reference Guide

Stage 1 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule: Laboratory Quick Reference Guide

Stage 2 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule: A Quick Reference Guide For Schedule 1 Systems

Stage 2 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule: A Quick Reference Guide For Schedule 2 Systems

Stage 2 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule: A Quick Reference Guide For Schedule 3 Systems

Stage 2 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule: A Quick Reference Guide For Schedule 4 Systems

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Groundwater Rules and Updates

Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule: A Quick Reference Guide For Schedule 1 Systems

Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule: A Quick Reference Guide For Schedule 2 Systems

Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule: A Quick Reference Guide For Schedule 3 Systems

Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule: A Quick Reference Guide For Schedule 4 Systems

Environmental Protection Agency - 40 CFR Parts 9, 141, and 142 National Primary Drinking Water Regulations: Ground Water Rule; Final Rule

Final Ground Water Rule Fact Sheet

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MTBE

MTBE is a synthetic, flammable, liquid fuel additive made principally from natural gas and other chemical compounds. It is added to gasoline for the purpose of increasing the octane level or reducing vehicular emissions of carbon monoxide (CO) and ozone-forming pollutants. The physical properties of MTBE resemble most of those of hydrocarbon components of gasoline. MTBE has a strong odor similar to a general anesthetic that has been used for surgeries on humans and other mammals. It is detectable by humans at very low concentrations in air and water - 53 parts per billion (ppb) in air and ranges as low as 20 to 40 ppb in water. MTBE is highly soluble in water and more soluble than other gasoline constituents.


ADEQ Report on MTBE in Arizona 1999

ADEQ Report on Potential MTBE Phase Out 2000

EPA Drinking Water Advisory on MTBE

EPA Factsheet on MTBE

EPA List of States Ban on MTBE

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Good Water Habits

Saving water in the kitchen isn't just the right thing to do during a drought. It's the right thing to do all of the time.

Sure, it's important to use clean water when we prepare food. But much of the water we use in our kitchens spills right down the sink, where it goes back to the water treatment plant without doing anyone any good.

Getting into these habits not only saves water?it can make your cooking more healthful and even tastier.

Get your money's worth

  1. When you get a drink of water, don't run the faucet until the water is cool. Put a pitcher or jug of water in the refrigerator.
  2. Fill your own water bottle and take it with you.
  3. Don't run the faucet until it gets hot. Heat water on the stove, or in the microwave.
  4. Wash fruits and vegetables in a container of water. Then use it to water plants
  5. When you rinse out of the coffee pot, use the water in your compost bin or on your garden.
  6. A garbage disposal is an inefficient way to get rid of kitchen scraps. Peel fruits and vegetables on the sheet of old newspaper, then fold it up and throw them away. Even better: Make compost. Save egg shells, used coffee grounds (and the unbleached paper filter), tea bags and trimmings from fruits and vegetables for your compost bin (Don't compost meat and dairy products, including fats.)
  7. Must we say it? Fix drippy faucets and leaking pipes

 

Washing up

  1. Don't waste water (and energy) scrubbing pots under running water. Fill them with water and let them sit to loosen residue. For stuck-on food, add water and a little dishwashing powder, then bring to a simmer on the stove.
  2. Don't run the dishwasher until it's full. And wait until after 10 pm, when water demand to lower.
  3. There's no need to rinse plates and utensils thoroughly before putting them in the dishwasher. Just scrape off food and let the dishwasher do its job.
  4. Washing by hand? Use the two-sink method: Fill one sink with hot, soapy water in the sink. Hold the dish under hot running water just long enough to rinse it. The rinse water will add to the soapy water keeping it hot as you work.
  5. Don't keep adding glasses to the dishwater every time you get a drink. Designate a daily drinking glass and don't wash it until the end of the day.

Cooking

  1. Don't thaw frozen food under running water. Place it in a bowl of cold water (check it every 30 minutes to make sure the water is cold.) Even better: Plan ahead and thaw food overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Don't cool hot items, such as hard-cooked eggs, under running water. Put them in a bowl of water to cool. (Use that water on your garden, too.)
  3. Don't pour cooking water down the drain. Water from pasta, vegetables, rice and potatoes can be saved in the refrigerator for a couple of days and used for soup. That captures flavor and water-soluble vitamins and minerals, too. (Potato-cooking water is great for making bread.)
  4. Cook frozen vegetables in as little water as possible (package directions usually only call for a couple of tablespoons). Steam fresh vegetables instead of boiling: It saves vitamins and minerals and boosts flavor.
  5. Put a lid on it. Heating a pot of water without a lid takes longer, and it releases heat that makes your air condition work harder, too.

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Perchlorate

Information about ADEQ and the Drinking Water Program can be obtained by calling the Drinking Water Section toll free at (800) 234-5677.

Fact Sheet #3: Perchlorate (Cl04-)

  1. Ammonium perchlorate is a man-made inorganic salt that is a strong oxidizer which is used as a component of solid rocket fuel, munitions and in the pyrotechnics fireworks industry. Ammonium perchlorate in fireworks produces the blue colors. Perchlorate continues to be manufactured and used nationwide.
  2. Ammonium perchlorate is very soluble and is mobile in groundwater and surface water. The chemical degrades very slowly in the environment.
  3. Risk studies will determine whether or if there may be an impact to the environment or human health. Until the scientific studies are completed at the national level, we do not know the effects of low concentrations of perchlorate. Currently it is known that the Las Vegas Wash is transporting perchlorate contamination into Lake Mead which then feeds into the Colorado River.
  4. A form of perchlorate has been used in medication for hyperthyroidism (Graves Disease). Potassium perchlorate disrupts the thyroids gland's ability to properly utilize iodine to produce thyroid hormones.
  5. Current location information on perchlorate contamination of groundwater and surface water in Arizona is limited since the chemical is not a regulated drinking water contaminant. Testing has been conducted by EPA along the Colorado River with results ranging from "not-detected" to 9 parts per billion. Other sampling conducted in Arizona along the CAP, in municipalities, Lake Havasu, Jose De Sonita River, Salt River, Verde River, and near some industrial parks ranged from "not-detected" to 6 parts per billion.
  6. The Las Vegas area has groundwater contamination ranging from 630,000 parts per billion to 3,700,000 parts per billion. Utah has reported groundwater contamination ranging up to 200 parts per billion.
  7. Laboratory methods to test for perchlorate could not get below 400 parts per billion detection level until the first part of 1997. Analysis of water samples conducted in August of 1998 used a modified laboratory method which is able to reach down to 1 part per billion using Ion Chromatography.
  8. California currently has an interim health standard of 18 parts per billion. If results are above this level, water systems in California are required to remove that source from the drinking water system or to conduct public notification. California is able to do this since they have the legal authorities within their Department of Health.
  9. There are currently no cost effective treatment technologies that can remove perchlorate from the drinking water, groundwater or surface water. Research is ongoing to find a cost effective treatment technology.
  10. Risk studies on perchlorate and its effects on human health are underway, and a revised reference dose is anticipated to be completed by the US EPA by January of 1999. ADEQ is a member of the Interagency Perchlorate Steering Committee (IPSC) which is a national group headed by the US EPA. It is the goal of ADEQ to keep the communities in Arizona up to date on this emerging issue.

Additional information and updates on the issues of perchlorate can be obtained from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline located in Washington, D.C. toll free at: (800) 426-4791. Updated information can also be obtained on the US EPA Perchlorate website.

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State Drinking Water & Wastewater Regulations


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Rate Study

by Carl Brown

Rate setting for water, sewer and other utilities is a mystery to many people. It drives others crazy! Rate increases make some people so angry that the word angry doesn't begin to describe how they feel. Bad rate setting gets some local government elected officials voted out of office. No rate setting leaving rates where they have been for years has set thousands of utilities up for some serious hard times or even failure.

It's no wonder utility decision-makers fear adjusting rates. They fear even bringing the topic up.

Fear no more (well, maybe just a little.) You can get great rates and keep your job or elected position, your sanity and your friends. Don't laugh. This is not a "get great rates quick" scheme. It's a "get great rates the right way" scheme.

Great rates do two things:

What great rates do is very simple. But, getting such rates is going to take some time and work, forever. While the process is never-ending, it is easy to spell out and most of it is (relatively) easy to do.


Rate setting works best when done in four phases:

  1. Phase 1 Decide your rate and fee goals your destination.
  2. Phase 2 Develop a comprehensive rate analysis your road map that leads to your goals, usually requiring large initial rate adjustments and rate structure changes.
  3. Phase 3 Adjust rates and fees get started on your journey using the analysis to inform your decisions.
  4. Phase 4 Make incremental rate adjustments in future years course corrections that are almost always increases to keep net revenues and other financial indicators on track with the projections from the comprehensive rate analysis.

Utilities range in size and complexity but all need to do rate setting through these four phases. To be clear, all systems need to do Phases 1, 3 and 4 themselves. You can get advice on these phases but do-it-yourself is the only choice for getting them done. For the Phase 2 comprehensive rate analysis, you get to decide if you will do your own or if you will hire it done. However you get it done, just make sure this analysis is a good one because for a long time you will be basing everything you do on it.


Rate Setting by the Numbers

Phase 1 Set Goals

Choosing "great rates" is usually a no-brainer for the author. (There are actually circumstances when you DON'T want great rates, but that is another, very special story.) Making the great rates decision is not that easy for communities. Many decisions you make about other things will impact your rates. And, decisions that you make about your rates will impact many things. It's a Rubik's cube, a giant brain teaser. If you want to have 'great rates,' you have to solve this puzzle and set goals first. While that is easy to say, it may take many months for you to objectively arrive at rate and utility system goals.

While a Phase 2 comprehensive rate analysis will help you to refine your rate and system goals, don't put off setting goals hoping that the analysis will solve this puzzle for you. The author has deep experience in doing rate analyses for communities that haven't set their goals yet. Invariably they want yet another rate scenario run, hoping that last scenario will look so good to everyone that they can live happily ever after paying those rates. It just doesn't turn out that way.

While a rate setting expert can help you weigh rate and system goal options, each community must settle upon its own goals. Once that is done, you need an expertly done rate analysis.


Phase 2 Analyze Rates
A comprehensive rate analysis mathematically solves three questions:

  1. Where are we?
  2. Where do we want to be?
  3. How do we get there?

You may have a feel for the answer to the question,  Where are we ' You probably can sense that your financial condition is bad or headed south. However, you probably don't know just how bad it really is. By the time most systems decide they need a comprehensive rate analysis they need an average initial rate increase of 20 to 45 percent. They also need severe rate restructuring to make their rates fair. The comprehensive rate analysis will answer the  Where are we ' question in explicit financial detail.

You have already answered, at least generally, the  Where do we want to be ' question when you set goals. You did set goals, didn't you  The analysis will put some numbers to the choices you have already made. Those numbers might even convince you to decide differently and change your goals, funding plans, capital improvement plans or something else. Most systems find that, while their rates are too low right now, with reasonable adjustments they can actually afford to do much more than they thought they could.

Finally, your rate analysis will answer the  How do we get there ' question. It will show you exactly how to adjust your rates, fees, policies and ordinances. It will show you how to plan for future equipment replacements and capital improvements. And, your analyst will guide you in how to  sell  the proposed rates to your ratepayers.

The Phase 2 analysis is especially focused on the initial adjustments, that ever-popular, and likely 20 to 45 percent rate increase.

But, the analysis will also peer into the future and tell you what kinds of rate adjustments, usually inflationary increases, you will need to make for perhaps the next 10 years to sustain the pursuit of your goals.

Now that you have your goals solidified and the analysis to tell you how to reach your goals, it's time to do something about it.


Phase 3 Adjust Rates

This is, of course, a political process and politics has a pretty bad reputation. However, you can gain ratepayer acceptance of your rate adjustment proposal by doing two things:

  1. Get a Phase 2 comprehensive rate analysis, and make it clear to all that the analysis was sound and not influenced by politics.
  2. Make it clear that the elected officials actually did or will use the results of the analysis to inform their rate adjustment decisions.

There are many ins and outs to making rate adjustments. Some are technical, like making sure your ordinance will pass legal muster. Some are pure politics, in the best sense of the term. You are trying to do a good thing for your ratepayers; set rates that will enable.

THEIR utility to provide the service THEY desire. You need to convince most of your ratepayers, who are cool-headed but usually disengaged from system decision-making, that the proposed rates will be fair and affordable and they will enable good service. You also need to convince your CAVE people not to organize the cool-heads to oppose you.

There are many issues to cover and excellent strategies you can use to keep the cool-heads with you and the CAVE people from opposing you in any organized fashion. Your rate setting specialist can give you guidance on these.

Going into a board or council meeting to consider rate adjustments is like going into battle. If you have not been getting or doing Phase 2 comprehensive rate analyses, then you have been going into battle without air support, artillery support, or even a walky-talky. You have been battered and bruised. You may have even assumed your current position because your predecessor didn't survive the previous unsupported battle or they went AWOL to escape it.

Because Phase 3 rate adjustments are supported by a Phase 2 comprehensive analysis, you will have cover for your rate setting decisions. Many times the enemy (not your cool-headed ratepayers because they will be with you, but the CAVE people) won't even contest this battle. So, take heart that this battle can be won, probably handily. That will set you up for lots of wins in the future. That is what Phase 4 is all about.


Phase 4 Adjust Rates Again and Again, Incrementally

Incremental rate increases are those done during years in-between comprehensive rate analyses. These are small, simple inflationary increases made to allow revenues to keep track with costs as they rise with inflation. Like regular brushing and flossing, these increases are a do-it-yourself affair. They do not take rate structure fairness into account. However, since they are small increases done following soon after a rate restructuring, rates will remain fair enough for several years to come.

Successful rate resetting is like a marathon. There are times during a marathon when you need to sprint. (For older marathoners like the author, sprinting is a relative term.) When you're in the crowd you sometimes need to sprint to avoid a crash. If you are so blessed to be that fast, you may find yourself nearing the finish line near the lead. You need to sprint and lean into the finish line tape if you want to win. However, most of the time the marathon is run at a fairly steady and relatively comfortable pace cruising. In rate setting, you should only do a Phase 2 analysis and Phase 3 rate adjustment sprint infrequently. You need to do Phase 4 rate increases every year cruise to keep on pace.

Phase 4 increases are pretty easy to sell because they are almost always small. This is how you do it.
Your board or council needs to revisit the rates once a year. To do that they need to look at what the previous Phase 2 comprehensive analysis predicted for this year and compare it to the system's current financial position and other indicators. Then, one of three things should happen:

  1. If the predicted and current financial positions match closely, and if future needs are like those anticipated in the analysis, the board or council should increase rates by the factors recommended in the analysis. This is a slam-dunk easy adjustment.
  2. If the two diverge modestly the board or council should adopt rates that will get the system back on track. They can do that with some simple math. This is only slightly more complex than a slam-dunk.
  3. If the predicted financial performance diverges wildly from the actual, a simple math calculation won't do. It's time for a new comprehensive analysis. The analysis is complex but the board or council's part is still easy to do.

Because these adjustments are small, few if any of your ratepayers will drag themselves away from everything else they have going on to concentrate on these adjustments. For such things they are willing to just let you take care of business.

In the author's experience, many systems can go about five years between comprehensive analyses by making incremental increases each year.


Conclusion

You want to take your system and your customers to a destination great rates and great service. You decide that destination by setting goals in Phase 1. Then you need a map, a Phase 2 comprehensive analysis, if you hope to find your destination. You can't reach any destination without starting. Phase 3 rate setting gets you on your way. Once you have arrived at your destination you can't stay there without paying the costs you will incur in the future. Incremental rate increases, Phase 4, will keep you where you want to be.


Author Bio and Contact Information

Carl Brown, ConsultantCarl Brown is President of Carl Brown Consulting, LLC ; specializing in water and sewer system rate analysis and rate setting, asset management program development and training nationwide. Mr. Brown may be contacted at:

Carl Brown Consulting, LLC
1014 Carousel Drive , Jefferson City , Missouri , 65101
Phone: (573) 619-3411
E-mail: carlbrown@mchsi.com
Web site: www.carlbrownconsulting.com

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The Great Rates Game Plan

by Carl Brown

Editor's Note: This article, republished here by permission, is extracted from chapter 15 of How to get Great Rates, a book written by Mr. Brown. To learn more about how you should set your system's rates, attend one of the rate setting workshops Mr. Brown will conduct for Association members.


Summary

Rate setting has a beginning, middle and end, and it has some basic steps one must complete to do it well. Those steps encompass determining the state of mind of all involved and carrying out the four phases of rate setting.


Introduction

Here we are, wrapping up your indoctrination in rate setting. You have learned much about the process. Soon you must transition from learning it to actually doing it. If you don't do that, we have failed.
You may be one of those readers who wanted a checklist or an easy to use template to make this rate setting task sure and easy. I told you early on in this guide that there is no cookbook for this kind of work. Now you're thinking, "He lied! He has a checklist."

While there is no one size fits all cookbook for rate setting, there are some basic things you need to be aware of and do. These were discussed at some length earlier in this guide so they are summarized in bullet-point fashion here.


The Game Plan

Take stock of your frame of mind, and the frame of mind of your ratepayers.

  1. Are you a short-range planning style of elected official or do you want to look out for your system’s, and your community's, long-range best interests?
  2. Are you a do-it-yourselfer and good at rate analysis or should you farm this task out?
  3. Are you good at presenting a difficult message, like 'our rates need to double,' and are your ratepayers inclined to listen to such a message?

Determine your system's financial situation

If you got a comprehensive analysis by a specialist within the last three years, review that analysis. Is the system on track financially compared to the analysis predictions? If so, skip down to the section on Phase 4. Otherwise, read on.


Phase 1 Set goals

Make a first cut decision about where you want your operating ratio, coverage ratio, affordability index, and other indicators and balances to be. The analysis will refine these so don't labor over this task.
Decide if you want to use advanced asset management strategies, which ones, when and how. Again, don't labor over this.


Phase 2 Do or get a comprehensive rate analysis

If you or someone else associated with your system has been trained in comprehensive rate analysis, you're good at it and you are inclined to do it, do your own rate analysis. Otherwise, seek outside help.

If an assistance provider, like your rural water association or a state technical assistance agency, has a rate analysis specialist who can do your analysis promptly and you are inclined to use them, do so if their service will yield the best return on investment.

If none of the above works for you, seek the services of a rate analyst using the strategies in this guide. Acquire their services smartly and promptly.

Work closely with your rate analyst to make sure they get good data to work with, that they clearly understand what you are trying to do, and to make sure that you clearly understand the actions that the analyst recommends you take.


Phase 3 Do the initial rate adjustment

Inform your decision-making body, and then your ratepayers, what the analysis results indicate they should do with rates, fees, policies and other issues. In all likelihood, your analyst's service will include doing this for you.

Based upon feedback from your decision-makers, prepare proposed changes to the rate ordinance or draft a rate resolution, as appropriate, that will enact the new rates if passed.
Present the ordinance or resolution to the decision-making body for their consideration.

Pass an ordinance or resolution. Also make all recommended changes to policies and procedures. Start with the high-dollar and most critical items first. However, if an item or issue is particularly difficult or time consuming to solve, temporarily skip it, solve other issues quickly then return to the difficult issue. Don't let a small but difficult issue hold up progress on other fronts.

Make the needed changes to your rate chart, your billing software program, Web page and wherever else it is necessary to effectuate the new rates.

Continue or begin to set aside funds as recommended for equipment replacement, capital improvements and the like.
After the new rates go into effect, do checks to see that the system's finances begin to perform as modeled.


Phase 4 Do follow up rate adjustments

Periodically, preferably annually at the beginning of each new fiscal year or near the anniversary of the initial rate adjustment, adjust rates incrementally. If the financial indicators from the analysis closely match the actual performance of the system, adjust rates by the percentages or amounts recommended in the comprehensive analysis for that year. If variances are larger, make larger adjustments on an equivalent percentage basis. When the analysis and actual performance cease to match well, it is time for a new comprehensive analysis start at Phase 1 again.


Conclusion

Like all other rate analysts, my livelihood depends on your using me. But you should strive to use me, or them, only once every three to five years or so. The first Phase 2 rate analysis recommendations will probably have you raise rates a lot and restructure rates severely because your rates are currently way out of whack. The second Phase 2 exercise, if you adjusted your rates properly the first time around and have since kept them current, should primarily be a rate restructuring. Hopefully it will be a light one at that. If you are preparing for an approaching capital improvement or some other large event and it was not modeled in the previous Phase 2 analysis, sure, rates will need to go up a lot, as well.

You will enjoy the greatest success if you can spend almost all of your time in Phase 4 and little time in the other phases. Frequent but small adjustments will be well received by your ratepayers. And, such adjustments will enable you to maintain a nice, even funding stream for your system with few problems.

Recall that early in this guide I made the point that people don't think of you at all unless there is a problem. Eliminate the problems, they won't think of you and, voila, you have success!


Your Charge

Having learned how to get great rates, you now have a decision to make. Are you going to actually do this stuff? Or, are you going to think, “Gee, that was kind of interesting. Maybe someday someone in the system should look into this rate adjustment thing further.”

I hope you will just do it, do it well and do it promptly."Time is mone", "sooner is better than later", "the only thing we have to fear..." and all those other great adages apply to rate setting, too.

Jump in. My experience tells me you will discover this. It looks overwhelming now. It will look easy when it is done.

Author Bio and Contact Information

Carl Brown, ConsultantCarl Brown is President of Carl Brown Consulting, LLC ; specializing in water and sewer system rate analysis and rate setting, asset management program development and training nationwide. Mr. Brown may be contacted at:

Carl Brown Consulting, LLC
1014 Carousel Drive , Jefferson City , Missouri , 65101
Phone: (573) 619-3411
E-mail: carlbrown@mchsi.com
Web site: www.carlbrownconsulting.com

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