One Water Rate
The 2023 One Water Rate, based on a new rate calculation formula, will support sustainable funding and enhance fairness across all utility subscriber classes. The One Water Rate is calculated based on a utility’s revenue and population served.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why is The Water Research Foundation changing its rate structure?
Since 2016, three independent research organizations have merged to create The Water Research Foundation. All three legacy organizations had different rate structures, which resulted in utilities of similar size paying vastly different subscription amounts. To achieve fairness for our utility subscribers, and to reflect the increasing interconnectedness of the water sector, The Water Research Foundation is implementing a One Water Rate.
How is the One Water Rate calculated?
The One Water Rate is calculated based on a utility’s revenue and population served. Revenue was chosen because it is a good indicator of a utility’s scope and scale. Population was chosen because it is an indicator of the relative benefit of WRF’s research, i.e., utilities serving larger populations spread the benefit of WRF research over a larger number of consumers.
For the purposes of WRF’s One Water Rate, revenue includes operating revenues from the sale of water (including recycled water), collection and treatment of wastewater, and non-operating revenues generated from property taxes and other assessments levied to fund water, wastewater, recycled water, and stormwater activities.
WRF defines a utility’s population served as the permanent population in the service territory as described by the utility in a publicly available document, website, or other publication, or based on census data encompassing the utility’s service area. If a utility serves wastewater, water, and recycled water in overlapping service areas, the larger population will be used.
When will the One Water Rate become effective?
The One Water Rate will become effective January 1, 2023. All subscribers will see the new One Water Rate structure reflected on their 2023 invoice.
How was the One Water Rate structure developed?
The One Water Rate was developed over a two-year period, beginning in February 2018. This effort was led by WRF’s Rate Strategy Committee, made up of nine board members representing diverse utilities, and was approved by the full Board in December of 2019. Several formulas for the One Water Rate were carefully considered. The One Water Rate places an equal weight on population and revenue. This approach was found to have the least amount of disruption, both to our subscribers and to WRF’s bottom line.
WRF chose to delay implementation of the One Water Rate due to the global pandemic. WRF froze rates in 2020 and only instituted only a slight increase in 2021.
My utility does not operate in all areas of water. How is the One Water Rate fair for me?
The Water Research Foundation is a true One Water research cooperative that integrates our research activities across all aspects of the water sector. The One Water Rate ensures that all utilities of similar size and reach pay equitably for research from The Water Research Foundation. This cooperative approach is what makes it possible for us develop and deliver the broad scope of research information and resources that you trust and depend on.
How is my utility subscription affected by this change?
The One Water Rate will impact each utility differently, as every utility has its own unique revenue amount and population served. For more information on your utility’s subscription amount, contact your Regional Liaison.
Under the One Water rate, my utility faces a subscription increase. Do we have to pay the full amount right away?
No. All subscription increases under the One Water Rate will be implemented gradually over an extended period of time.
Who at WRF can answer questions about my utility’s subscription fee?
My subscription didn’t change from 2022 to 2023. Why?
For utilities that would have seen a subscription decrease under the One Water Rate formula, their subscription was instead frozen at the 2022 subscription level. This will allow The Water Research Foundation to remain revenue neutral as the One Water Rate is implemented so that we can continue delivering the highest quality research to our subscribers.
Each utility’s subscription will be recalculated each year, based on the most current revenue and population information publicly available.
Why is my subscription going up?
Your utility’s subscription fee increased because the formula used to calculate subscriptions has changed. The One Water Rate formula calculates utility subscriptions based on population and revenue. Under the One Water Rate, all increases were capped at 5%, that is, no utility will be asked to pay an increase greater than 5%.
How does my subscription support research I am interested in?
No matter your utility’s size or the type of water treated, WRF has timely research relevant to your needs. Our projects encompass critical priorities for the entire water sector, including:
- Healthy Communities and Environment
- Treatment Optimization and Intensification
- Efficient Resource Use and Recovery
- Resilient Infrastructure
- Utility Operations and Management
Will my subscription rate change every year? What can I expect?
WRF’s Board of Directors will carefully follow implementation of the new rate structure. In 2025, the Board of Directors will review the success and long-term viability of the One Water Rate.
Can WRF help me justify my subscription to my City Council/Board/Commissioners?
What value do I get from being a subscriber?
WRF broadly leverages resources to deliver scientifically sound research that:
- Offers solutions to the most critical problems utilities face
- Informs more pragmatic policy and regulations
- Results in cost savings for water utilities and their customers
- Provides opportunities for utilities to greatly leverage their research dollars and avoid duplication of efforts
- Supports more credible utility communication with customers, stakeholders, and the media
- Improves protection of public health and the environment
A WRF subscription also gives utilities opportunities to guide WRF’s research agenda, network with peers, and receive personalized service from Regional Liaisons.