A Message from the Director
The primary mission of the Water Resources Department is to provide the highest level of water, sewer, and stormwater services to our customers to protect public health and sustain the quality of life all of us enjoy. We do this with unwavering commitment to uphold public trust through exceptional customer service, transparency, and environmental stewardship.
To achieve our mission we have to proactively respond to the ever-changing environment we find ourselves in. Part of this response is seen in our work to maintain the thousands of miles of water and sewer lines that lie buried under our feet. It is also evident in how we operate and maintain our water and wastewater treatment plants so we can comply with regulations and protect the environment. These efforts are covered through the fees you pay for the services Water Resources provides.
The information that follows is meant to help you understand why our department has a need to increase water and sewer rates in order to maintain our water and sewer utility system.
Like every other water and sewer utility in the US, Greensboro faces system and financial pressures that directly impact our rates. Those pressures predominantly manifest themselves in the following areas:
- Infrastructure Deterioration - A water and sewer utility system consists of everything from new pump stations and tanks to pipelines more than 100 years old. Our biggest liability is our decaying water and sewer infrastructure. If we do not maintain a healthy financial position through rate increases and begin to replace aging water lines, sewer lines, and other essential assets, we will see an uncontrollable increase in water and sewer system failures.
The most visible of these failures are water main breaks, sewer line cave-ins, and treatment plant outages.
Upcoming projects include major electrical and treatment process improvements at the Mitchell Water Treatment Plant and major electrical upgrades at the Lake Townsend Water Treatment Plant.
- Regulatory Compliance - All of us benefit from a cleaner environment and our quality of life is improved by drinking water that meets the highest standards. To achieve this, state and federal agencies update current regulations and enact new regulations that require municipalities to improve treatment plant processes.
A good example of this is the mandate to remove excessive levels of nutrients (like nitrogen and phosphorus) from our wastewater discharges through what are called the "Jordan Lake Rules."
The cost to upgrade the TZ Osborne Water Reclamation Facility so the city can meet the nutrient discharge limits established by the Jordan Lake Rules exceeded $120 million. The project was broken into four distinct construction packages. The first three packages are complete and the final package will be completed by fall 2020; just in time to meet the new nutrient limits that go into effect January 1, 2021.
Another important area of focus on the drinking water side pertains to contaminants of emerging concern. Water Resources stands ready to address this significant health concern through ongoing and future proactive treatment measures. Ultimately, improvements at the city’s two water treatment facilities will need to be made as the industry develops new ways to detect, measure, and remove these emerging contaminants.
- Growth and Economic Development - As a city grows and attracts businesses, there is a need to find new sources of water, increase the capacity to treat both raw water and wastewater, and increase the capacity of the water distribution and wastewater collection systems our customers depend on.
A good example of such expenditures is seen in the Randleman Reservoir and the John F. Kime Water Treatment Plant located south of Greensboro in Randolph County. Greensboro has a 53 percent ownership stake in the facility and receives in excess of 7.8 million gallons per day of drinking water.
Another example is the future development of the Greensboro-Randolph Mega Site near Liberty. Greensboro has set the stage to provide water and sewer service to this extraordinary manufacturing business park.
Water Resources has many projects that fall into the above areas. Some are now underway or about to begin and others are being lined up to take place in the not too distant future. All of the projects are essential to keeping our water and sewer system in the best condition for years to come.
Unfortunately, these projects cannot be accomplished without funding and that is why Greensboro will continue to experience the need to raise water and sewer rates.
Our rates still remain close to the lowest of all mid-to-large NC cities. We hope you understand the need to maintain the city’s utility system with these modest rate increases and we look forward to sharing updates on how your dollars are being spent.