City of Madison, Newsletter

From the Madison Water Utility

For the first time ever, Madison Water Utility is implementing a conservation rate for our residential customers (people living in single-family homes and duplexes). The change makes Madison the largest city in Wisconsin to offer a residential water rate that rewards conservation. The new rate goes into effect today (9/29/2015), but customers won’t start seeing the impact on their bills until the 2nd week of November. Click here to access the Public Service Commission’s 9/28/2015 Rate Application Decision.

What has changed

Base charges (Public Fire Protection and 5/8” Meter Charge) have increased for most residential customers by $1.73 per month, from $6.00 to $7.73.

Usage charges have transitioned to a conservation rate, which means charges now vary depending on the amount of water used. The following rate tiers are in place for residential customers:

The new rate plan only affects the Water and Public Fire Protection portion of your bill. Other charges on your Madison Municipal Service Bill, like sewer, landfill, urban forestry and storm water, are not controlled by Madison Water Utility and are not impacted by the new rates.

Under the new plan, the water bill for an average residential customer who uses 4,000 gallons a month will increase from $17.24 per month to $19.51, or 13 percent. Even under this new rate structure, the water bill for a typical Madison residential customer is below the average Wisconsin water bill.

Want to track how much water you’re using?

Log on to our Customer Care page to take advantage of our new online conservation tool. You’ll be able to view your monthly, daily, even hourly water use. You can also set up email alerts so you’ll be notified when your usage surpasses whatever number of gallons you choose. Find out more about how to track your water use online.

Customers living in apartments

The residential usage tiers do not apply to people living in buildings with three or more units connected to one water meter. Those properties are part of Madison Water Utility’s new Multi-Family customer class. The Multi-Family rate is $2.64 per 1,000 gallons for most apartment buildings. Previously, multi-family buildings were considered part of the Commercial Class, and were charged either $1.83 or $2.34 per 1,000 gallons depending on usage.

Non-Residential Customers

Madison Water Utility is implementing a customer class-based rate structure, providing separate rates for each of our customers classes: residential, multi-family, commercial, industrial and public authority. Click here to view a comparison of previous and current rates for each customer class.

Why encourage conservation?

Our infrastructure – Madison Water Utility designs the city’s water infrastructure to meet peak demand. That means that 6 of our 22 well facilities are only used seasonally during the high-demand warm weather months. Our goal is to reduce peak water consumption in Madison which could mean saving millions of dollars on additional facilities and infrastructure in the coming decades.

Our aquifer – We pump 10 billion gallons of water every year from the aquifer beneath Madison to meet the city’s water demands. That’s more than 8 tons of water every minute at every operating well across the city. While the aquifer is a plentiful water source, too much pumping can result in cones of depression known as draw down. Using groundwater faster than it can be naturally restored in those areas could eventually result in supply problems.

Our lakes and streams – Heavy groundwater pumping hundreds of feet below ground also affects our lakes and streams on the surface. Some area streams, particularly those around Starkweather Creek and Lake Wingra, have been impacted by municipal water wells. A few shallow streams disappear entirely during peak season pumping.

Our 20/20 goal

In 2008, Madison’s Water Conservation & Sustainability Plan outlined an ambitious goal: Drop daily per person water use in the city by 20 percent — from 73 gallons to 58 gallons — by the year 2020. It appears we are well on our way. Madisonians currently use 64 gallons of water per person per day, but there’s more work to be done to reach our goal. If you have an older toilet, consider taking advantage of our toilet rebate program to replace it with a high-efficiency model. Take a look at some of our conservation tips to see how you can use less, and learn how to spot leaks in your home. When it comes to preserving a safe reliable water supply for our children and grandchildren, every drop counts.

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