1. Watershed-based infrastructure planning
Description: This measure addresses utility efforts to consider watershed-based approaches when making management decisions affecting infrastructure planning and investment options. Watershed protection strategies can sometimes, for example, protect sourcewater quality limiting the need for additional or enhanced water treatment capacity.
- Does the utility employ alternative, watershed-based approaches to align infrastructure decisions with overall watershed goals and potentially reduce future infrastructure costs? Watershed-based approaches include, for example: centralized management of decentralized systems; stormwater management; sourcewater protection programs; and conjunctive use of groundwater, sourcewater, and recycled water to optimize resource use at a basin scale. (See also “green infrastructure” below.)
2. Green infrastructure
Description: “Green infrastructure” includes both the built and natural/unbuilt environment. Utilities may promote source water protection and conservation “green infrastructure” approaches in support of water conservation (e.g., per capita demand reduction) and water quality protection objectives. Green infrastructure approaches can include: low-impact development techniques (e.g., minimization of impervious surfaces, green roofs); protection of green spaces and wildlife habitat; incentives for water-efficient domestic appliance use and landscaping; green building standards such as those promoted through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program; management of energy, chemical, and material use; etc. Utilities often coordinate these efforts with community planning offices.
- Example question:
- Has the utility explored green infrastructure approaches and opportunities that are aligned with the utility’s mandate, goals, and objectives and community interests (yes/no)?
- Does the utility have procedures that incorporate green infrastructure approaches and performance into new infrastructure investments (yes/no)?
Greenhouse gas emissions
Description: This measure will help drinking and wastewater utilities to understand and reduce their individual contributions to area greenhouse gas emissions. Trends indicate that water utility emissions of these gases will likely be of interest to stakeholders. Monitoring of these emissions is becoming more common among water sector utilities, and some utilities are beginning voluntary efforts to reduce their emissions (e.g., through production of reusable methane energy by wastewater utilities).
- Net (gross minus offsets) greenhouse gas emissions in tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4), and, as applicable, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs). Start by establishing an emissions baseline and then track emission trends in conjunction with minimizing/reducing emissions over time, where possible. Emissions inventories often incorporate indirect emissions such as those generated during the production and transport of materials and chemicals.
4. Service affordability
Description: Drinking water and wastewater service affordability centers on community members’ ability to pay for water services. The true cost of water/wastewater services may be higher than some low-income households can afford, particularly when rates reflect the full life-cycle cost of water services. Each utility will want to consider and balance keeping water services affordable while ensuring the rates needed for long-term infrastructure and financial integrity.
Example calculations and considerations:
- Bill affordability (households for which rates may represent an unaffordable level) (percent): 100 X (number of households served for which average water bill is > “X” percent (often 2-2.5%) of median household income ÷ total number of households served).
- Low-income billing assistance program coverage (percent): 100 X (number of customers enrolled in low-income billing assistance program ÷ number of customers who are eligible for enrollment in low-income billing assistance program). (The utility can try to increase participation in the program for eligible households that are not participating.)
More information on resources for this attribute-related measure can be found in the EUM Resource Toolbox.
 For more information about green infrastructure, visit www.epa.gov/npdes/greeninfrastructure.
 EPA’s industry-government “Climate Leaders” partnership involves completing a corporate-wide inventory of their greenhouse gas emissions. Information and related guidance is available at http://www.epa.gov/stateply/index.html.
 This calculation focuses on identifying low-income households based median household incomes (MHI); however, MHI is not strongly correlated with the incidence of poverty or other measures of economic need. Further, populations served by small utilities in rural settings tend to have lower MHI and higher poverty rates, but fewer options for diversifying water/wastewater service rates based on need compared to larger municipal systems.