News

Posted on: July 13, 2015

Charleston Water System Earns Triple-A Rating from Moody’s, S&P

Replacement of this 110-year-old settling basin is one of the 18 projects included in the CWS's Capital Improvements Plan

Charleston Water System has earned the highest possible bond ratings from Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s and is now one of only 10 combined water and wastewater utilities in the nation to hold an Aaa rating from Moody’s.

Moody’s upgraded Charleston Water System’s rating from Aa1 to Aaa, citing the utility’s diverse and growing service area, strong financial and asset management, high levels of liquidity, and consistent ability to exceed debt service coverage. Read the full announcement from Moody’s. S&P confirmed the AAA rating it assigned to the utility several years ago, and Fitch reaffirmed its AA+ rating.

The ratings come in advance of Charleston Water’s plans to issue $147.66 million in revenue bonds later this month to fund its Capital Improvements Program, which consists of 18 critical water and sewer infrastructure projects, including:

  • Extension of the 16-inch water transmission main serving Hollywood and Ravenel;
  • New facilities at the Plum Island Wastewater Treatment Plant, including pre-treatment, primary clarifiers, and final settling tanks;
  • Rehabilitation of the gravity sewer trunk mains that serve the Highway 61 corridor and Johns Island, and;
  • Replacement of a 110-year-old settling basin at the Hanahan Water Treatment Plant (pictured).
    • Strong bond ratings allow Charleston Water to secure lower interest rates, resulting in lower borrowing costs over the life of the bonds. This helps minimize water and sewer rate increases needed to repay the debt over time. Charleston Water’s operations are funded by revenue from water and sewer rates and fees, new development impact fees, and interest income.

      “Water and sewer are must-have services, and we have a lot of aging infrastructure that needs to be replaced, not to mention new infrastructure that’s needed to serve our growing population,” said Kin Hill, P.E., Chief Executive Officer. “Our capital program is costly, but having triple-A bond ratings will allow us to borrow the needed funds at the lowest possible cost to our rate-paying customers.”

      “Having the highest ratings possible from Moody’s and S&P will allow the Commission to market our bonds at the lowest interest rates possible,” said David Rivers, Vice-Chairman of Charleston Water’s Board of Commissioners. “Kudos to the staff for building a strong financial position and being proactive about long-term infrastructure needs.”

      Charleston Water System is a public water and wastewater utility that provides water service to more than 400,000 people in the Greater Charleston area and sewer service to some 180,000 people, primarily in the City of Charleston. To learn more, visit www.charlestonwater.com.

Moody's Announcement