Charleston Water System is an independent municipal water and wastewater utility owned by its ratepayers. Charleston Water System does not receive tax revenue; our operations are funded by revenue from water and sewer rates, fees, interest-bearing accounts, and revenue bond proceeds.
Our fiscal year is one calendar year—January 1 through December 31st. The Board of Commissioners must approve the budget before December 31st. Revenue and expenses for drinking water are separated from wastewater revenue and expenses. For example, rates and fees earned from sewer bills cannot be used for water treatment or distribution needs, only for wastewater expenses.
Revenue is generated by rates and fees charged for water and wastewater service, bond issues approved by Charleston City Council, and interest-bearing investments. Impact fees charged for establishing a water or sewer account for a new home or business are an important source of revenue that can only be used for capital improvements related to growth.
Debt and Bond Ordinance Requirements
To fund large capital improvement projects, Charleston Water System borrows money by issuing revenue bonds.
Bond issues must be approved by Charleston City Council, and the ordinances that govern the borrowing terms require us to maintain net earnings equal to at least 120% of the annual principal and interest requirement in each fiscal year. Although Charleston Water System is required by bond ordinance to maintain a minimum earnings test ratio of 120%, the Commission establishes an annual target of at least 140% of annual net earnings.
For More Information
For questions about our rates, fees, budget, or to request a copy of an Annual Report, please contact our Finance Department at (843) 727-6922.