State Water Infrastructure Commission (SWIC)
From Water Wiki
Authority, Purpose and Structure
The State Water Infrastructure Commission (SWIC) was created by act of the North Carolina General Assembly in 2005 (NCGS 159G-65). The purpose of the SWIC is to identify the State’s water infrastructure needs, develop a plan to meet those needs, and monitor implementation of the plan. The Commission is comprised of 13 members representing State agencies and non-profits, organizations representing North Carolina local governments and members of the water infrastructure and water resources professions.
SWIC provides an important policy forum for the discussions on drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. The specific duties of the SWIC are as follows:
- To assess and make recommendations on the role of the State in the development and funding of wastewater, drinking water, and stormwater infrastructure in the State.
- To analyze the adequacy of projected funding to meet projected needs over the next five years.
- To propose State priorities for funding.
- To make recommendations on ways to maximize the use of current funding resources, whether federal, State, or local, and to insure that funds are used in a coordinated manner.
- To review the application of management practices in wastewater, drinking water, and stormwater utilities and determine the best practices.
- To assess the role of public private partnerships in the future provision of utility service.
- To assess the application of the river basin approach to utility planning and management.
- To assess the need for a "troubled system" protocol.
Reports and Recommendations
Each year, in compliance with the NC General Statute authorizing SWIC, a report is submitted to the Governor and to the members of the NC General Assembly. At a minimum, the report contains a review of the activites of SWIC over the prior 12 months. SWIC members chose to utilize this reporting requiremen proactively. The reports submitted contain not only a summary of topical work, but also our policy analysis of the issue(s) covered and a series of recommendations. The recommendations focus, in compliance with the SWIC Duties, on how the State of North Carolina can refine its role in the support and development of infrastructure and infrastructure financing.
The third report, presented by Jean Klein to the legislature's Environmental Review Commission on Nov 25, 2008, focuses on the state role in water infrastructure financing, implementation of provisions of Session Law 2008-143 (Improve Drought Preparedness and Response), encouraging water audits, reclaimed water, regional partnerships, and funding for continued operation of the SWIC.
The fourth report was transmitted to the legislature's Environmental Review Commission and Legislative Study Committee on Water and Wastewater (transmittal letter is here) on December 11, 2009. The fourth report focused on: 1) SWIC's work with the help of UNC's Environmental Finance Center to set guidelines for water systems regarding revenues and operating and maintenance costs, 2) SWIC's recommendation that the General Assembly increase the high unit cost threshold for state grants to 2.0% from 1.5% median household income, 3) SWIC's support for increasing the use of reclaimed water, 4) SWIC's recommendations on regionalization. The report also notes that work to develop guidelines for water conservation based rates will be delayed until resources are provided.
Legislative and executive branch responses to SWIC
The 2008 General Assembly enacted and Governor Easley signed HB 2499, Drought/Water Management Recommendations. Section 9 of HB 2499 requires applicants for state water grants and loans will have to demonstrate that they have established a water rate system that is adequate to be eligible for grants and loans. Section 17 of HB 2499 requires the SWIC to develop guidelines for water rate structures that are adequate to pay the cost of maintaining, repairing, and operating the system. SWIC has contracted with UNC-CH's Environmental Finance Center to research water rates. SWIC plans to consult with the School of Government at UNC-CH, NC Utilities Commission, Public Staff of the Utilities Commission, Local Government Commission, DENR, NC League of Municipalities, NC Association of County Commissioners, Rural Center, and others in the development of guidelines. Section 9 also requires systems to implement water efficiency measures to be eligible for grants and loans. Section 9 becomes effective July 1, 2009.
SWIC has asked State funders to coordinate their efforts and develop common criteria to address the water efficiency measures set out in Section 9. This page pulls together funding calendar events and coordination efforts by the state's funders.
The legislature's Program Evaluation Division is conducting a study on the financing of water infrastructure in the State and may present its recommendations to the Joint Oversight Committee on Program Evaluation in January 2009.
The State Water Infrastructure Commission meets bimonthly on the third Friday of the month from 10 am to 12 noon starting in January unless otherwise noted. The next meeting is scheduled for Friday, July 15, 2011 at the Albert Coates Local Government Center at 215 North Dawson Street in Raleigh from 10-12. Guidance for conservation based water rates, the 2010 annual report, and other issues will be on the agenda. Minutes of some of the meetings can be assessed by clicking on the links below.
- June 2009
- February 2009 and agenda is here
- October 2008 (report to legislature)
- Sept 2008
- Aug 2008 (reclaimed water and water resources panel presentation)
- Jun 10, 2008
- May 13, 2008
- April 2008
- February 2008
SWIC List Serve
Go to http://www.sog.unc.edu/node/265 to subscribe to the SWIC list serve.