402 

 

NARRATIVE: The Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) is a community-owned utility that 
provides our customers with high quality and reliable water, wastewater, and reclaimed water services 
through the responsible and creative stewardship of the resources we manage. We provide excellent 
service so that if our customers could choose their water utility, they would always select OWASA. We 
are a trusted steward of the community, environmental, and financial resources we manage. OWASA 
serves over 83,000 people in the Carrboro-Chapel Hill, North Carolina community, including the 
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Our employees are empowered in our quest for continuous 
improvement and innovation in serving our community and the environment.  

We protect the environment through effective management and operation of our wastewater 
collection, treatment, water reuse, and resource recovery systems and manage our resources in an 
environmentally responsible manner. We recognize that our use of energy, particularly non-renewable 
energy, impacts land, water, and air resources across geographical scales, and that our use of fossil fuel-
based energy sources contributes to increased greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate 
change. Our use of energy is also a major direct expense to our customers. The OWASA Board of 
Directors has set goals to reduce OWASA’s use of purchased electricity and natural gas, as well as to 
beneficially use the biogas generated in treating wastewater. Through our energy management program 
described in this application, we will work to achieve these goals by building on our past successes in 
energy management and applying systems thinking for future success.  

We provide excellent service to our customers.  We engage our customers and stakeholders and provide 
them meaningful opportunities to participate in decisions that are important to them. Since 2000, we 
have invested around $9 million in odor elimination improvements, including construction of a bio-filter 
to treat exhaust air from the wastewater solids handling facility and covering and treating of exhaust air 
from the wastewater treatment plant’s headworks, solids storage tanks, and biological treatment tanks. 
Our goal is to have no offsite objectionable odors from the WWTP, a goal we have made significant 
advancement towards in the last five years.  

We provide affordable and high-value services by actively managing our costs and working with our 
customers to help them manage theirs. OWASA has an active affordability outreach program in 
partnership with local social service agencies that provide assistance to low-income members of the 
community. OWASA encourages a bill assistance program called Care to Share and a conservation 
initiative to empower low-income customers with the knowledge and tools that they need to reduce 
their utility bill by reducing their use.  

The OWASA Board of Directors and staff have long recognized that to advance our quality, sustainability, 
and resilience, we must be a financially sustainable utility. To meet this challenge, we take a 
comprehensive, longterm view of our operating and maintenance requirements, rehabilitation and 
replacement needs, customer demands, revenue requirements, rate impacts, and other factors. Our 
financial sustainability framework includes five main strategies: (1) cost-of-service rates that promote 
the efficient use of resources and system capacity; (2) our Financial Management Policy; (3) our 15-year 
financial model and plan, including a capital improvements plan; (4) our comprehensive asset 
management plan; and (5) continuous improvement initiatives that improve operating efficiencies and 
reduce upward pressure on our rates.   

We embrace the principles of environmental, social, and economic sustainability.  We strive to make the 
highest and best use of our local water resources and to promote conservation of water, energy, and