Graham Sustainability Institute

Cincinnati Water Works & Boone/Florence Water Commission Agreement

June 2018

 In the 1990s, Cincinnati, OH and Boone County, KY experienced differing development trends. Boone County—and its largest city, Florence – was growing 10-12 percent annually. The expansion of a regional international airport, the Greater Cincinnati Airport, and the complementary businesses it attracted aided in its growth. 

At that point, the Boone County Water District (Boone Water District) had been purchasing all of its drinking water – one billion gallons per year – from the Northern Kentucky Water District, a multi-county water utility. With Boone County’s growth, the Northern Kentucky Water District began to realize that regional water demand would outstrip its capacity in the near future. The district asked Boone Water District to modify the existing water service agreement to include capital costs to build an additional water treatment plant. This approach would require Boone Water District to raise rates. As a result, Boone County and the City of Florence began exploring alternative options. They had two possibilities: pay to expand capacity at the Northern Kentucky District or enter into an arrangement with an outside water supplier. The first option required massive investment and sweeping reconstruction of infrastructure. The second idea required a willing and able supplier. 

Case study