Water Equity Clearinghouse

The Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC

The Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reaches local communities through the delivery of interactive applied training programs and technical assistance. The EFC at UNC sees one of its major roles as increasing the capacity of other organizations to address the financial aspects of environmental protection and service delivery. For this reason and to support the leveraging of resources, the EFC at UNC does most of its training in a collaborative manner – partnering with established organizations that have environmental but not necessarily financial expertise. In addition to direct community outreach, the EFC at UNC works with decision makers to assess the effectiveness of environmental finance policies at a regional or state level, and to improve those policies as a way of supporting local efforts.

The EFC at UNC is a motivated interdisciplinary group that works collaboratively with partners within and outside of the University. We are part of the Environmental Finance Center Network, a university-based organization creating innovative solutions to the difficult how-to-pay issues of environmental protection and improvement. Other members of the EFCN include environmental finance centers at the University of Syracuse, the University of Maryland, and nine other locations across the country.

The EFC at UNC's work promotes smart management and resilient business models for drinking water and wastewater utilities. In addition, the EFC at UNC works with organizations, governments, and tribes to promote sustainable finance for stormwater utilities, wetlands, and watersheds. Through applied financial research on customer level billing data, partnerships with utilities across the country, and work with private, local, and state government water organizations, we develop modeled and tested strategies that can lead to financial health in the water industry.

The EFC at UNC is dedicated to enhancing the ability of governments and other organizations to provide environmental programs and services in fair, effective, and financially sustainable ways.

The EFC at UNC has produced over 200 publications covering topics in drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, wetlands, and watersheds. The publications traverse a variety of issues, including affordability (e.g. Navigating Legal Pathways to Rate-Funded Customer Assistance Programs: A Guide for Water and Wastewater Utilities), financial mechanisms (The Financial Impacts of Alternative Water Project Delivery Models: A Closer Look at Nine Communities),  and revenues (Annual Report of Water and Wastewater Rates and Rate Structures in North Carolina). For full access to the EFC at UNC’s Resource Library, click here

In addition to research publications, the EFC at UNC has also developed a cornucopia of free, interactive, online tools to assist water utilities and local governments in water equity decisions. These tools cover a broad range of water finance and management topics, including rates and revenue (e.g. Water and Wastewater Rates Analysis Model), financial benchmarking (Financial Sustainability and Rates Dashboards), and affordability (Residential Rates Affordability Assessment Tool). For a full list of the EFC at UNC’s tools, click here.

Every year, the EFC at UNC offers over 500 hours of educational programming. This programming is offered in the various forms of webinars, workshops, and presentations. These offerings vary by topic, but a large part of the workshops exist through the Smart Management for Small Water Systems project. The Small Systems project is one of the EFC at UNC’s biggest efforts in advancing water equity, working to improve the financial and managerial capabilities of the nation's smallest, most plentiful, and neediest public water systems—those serving fewer than 10,000 people. The materials and resources produced in these all of these events is made available on our website in the form of powerpoints, handouts, and webinar recordings.