Capacity Assurance Program

Beginning in 2009, Charlotte Water implemented the Capacity Assurance Program (CAP). This program verifies capacity in the public wastewater system for new developments and redevelopments. The existing system is evaluated from the new customer's proposed point of connection through the existing local gravity sewer, the trunk sewer, and finally the wastewater treatment facilities.  The CAP program ensures that new development flows added to the wastewater system can connect safely without exceeding the capacity of the existing pipes, pump stations, or treatment facilities. 


All new connections to Charlotte Water's wastewater collections system requesting a new water service 1-1/2 inch or larger (or equivalent sewer flow) require a CAP approval before final connection.  All new service requests requiring CAP approval must submit a CAP application to the New Services Group. For development projects submitted through Charlotte Water's Land Development Services (Donated) group, the CAP application will be submitted as part of the Land Development Services review process.  A CAP approval is required before the final connections to the public water and sewer systems.


Apply early to avoid project delays. Extensive development and redevelopment can have major impacts to the local pipelines and existing wastewater system. CAP applications and new taps cannot be approved unless capacity is available. Submitting a Preliminary CAP Review (PCR) and full CAP application as early as possible helps to identify any possible capacity issues and their solutions early.




What's the difference between a Preliminary CAP Review, a Willingness To Serve, and a Full CAP?

There are two levels of application to the CAP program:

Preliminary CAP Review (PCR) (previously a Willingness to Serve (WTS) – As of January 1, 2020, Willingness To Serve (WTS) was renamed to Preliminary CAP Review (PCR). The name change is the only change to the process. The PCR CAP application is intended to identify any potential sewer issues early in the development process to maximize the possibility to eliminate the capacity issue with minimal impact on development. It is not required but is strongly encouraged that a PCR application be submitted in the early stages of a development project. This application is submitted before the full CAP application and does not require a fully engineered site plan. The PCR can be submitted with a conceptual plan of the development site, a preliminary estimate of flows, and the completed CAP application form. Approval of the PCR does NOT reserve capacity within the wastewater system.

Full CAP - A full CAP application is required for all new connections 1-1/2 inch and larger, and a CAP approval must be granted before a new connection is allowed. This process requires a fully engineered site utility plan to be submitted with the completed CAP application form. Once the CAP application is submitted, an engineering analysis of the existing public wastewater system is performed to verify that there is enough capacity to accommodate the proposed development. Once capacity is confirmed, the CAP application will be approved. Approval of the full CAP application reserves capacity for the development in the public wastewater system for two years from the date of approval. **A CAP approval does not evaluate or ensure that any additional wastewater infrastructure required to convey flows to the existing public wastewater system will be built or is adequate for the proposed development. The CAP analysis does not verify capacity within low-pressure sanitary sewer systems.


How long does it take to receive a CAP review?

Typical CAP reviews are processed in 20 business days. For a small portion of CAP applications, additional investigation is required to verify capacity. The additional investigation may include a survey of the existing wastewater system, sewer flow monitoring, or both. If additional investigation is required, the applicant will be notified. The survey is typically completed with 15 business days. Flow monitoring requires measuring flows experienced during a substantial rain event, for this reason, flow monitoring may add up to 3 months to the CAP review. There is no charge to the applicant for this additional investigation.


Do the Preliminary CAP Review (PCR) and full CAP applications use the same form?

Yes – the same form is used for both the full CAP and the PCR applications.


When does the 2-year capacity reservation period begin?

Reservations are good for 24 months from the Full CAP approval date.


My two-year reservation expired. How can I get that reservation back?

If tap fees for an approved CAP development are not paid within 2 years of the approval date, the CAP will expire. If the CAP approval has expired, the applicant can request a reapplication. The capacity for the reapplication will be evaluated based on current flows and CAPs.


I have a change in number of units or planned tenants that will change the sewer flow from my development. Do I need to change my reservation?

For changes equal to or less than 10% above the original flow reservation, please notify CAP and the reservation will be adjusted. For changes in development flow greater than 10% above the original development flow, a reapplication to the CAP program is required and available capacity will be reevaluated based on existing flows and CAPs.


I am designing or connecting to a Low-Pressure Sewer System (LPSS). Does a CAP review verify capacity?

A CAP review is required for new or modified low-pressure sewer systems to verify capacity in the existing, public gravity sewer receiving the flow from the LPSS. Additional evaluation of new or modified LPSS systems is required before permitting and connection. Please contact Charlotte Water’s Installation and Development Services group for further information.


Does a capacity limitation mean development has to stop?

No, for most CAP applications, there is enough capacity for the proposed development and the application is approved. The CAP program classifies limitations based on their severity and size. Most limitations are addressed by Charlotte Water without impact on development.  A Tier 3 local collection system limitation is when the system has a high-risk manhole overflowing during dry weather.  For a Tier 3 limitation, new development cannot make final connections until the sewer project identified to eliminate the limitation is completed.  For development in Tier 3 limited sub-basins, Conditional CAP approvals are issued with full CAP approval and final connection contingent on completion of the required public sewer project. The Conditional CAP approval allows for parallel construction of the development project with the sewer project. Typically, the schedules for the two projects can be coordinated with minimal impact on the development. Early application to the CAP program helps Charlotte Water to identify capacity improvement projects as early as possible.