Blackhawk Water Tower

Last Updated: 11/15/2017

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Location: Near the southeast corner of Pioneer and Old Sauk roads
Purpose: Provide more water storage (1 million gallons) and better fire protection for Madison's far west side
Project Budget: $3.6 million
Anticipated start date: May, 2017    
Anticipated completion date: Fall, 2018

Madison Water Utility will combine two pressure zones on the westernmost edge of the city -- Zones 10 and 11. This project will add elevated water storage to Zone 11, which currently operates solely on a pump station, and will hydraulically balance the two zones. The Blackhawk Water Tower will also supplement current storage at the High Point Rd. water tower in Zone 10, which is reaching capacity. The project will improve emergency water supply and system reliability, ensuring water service even during a power outage. Learn more about the need for the project in our Inside MWU web article, "Planned Blackhawk water tower signals growth on the west side."


Steel tank at base of tower
(Photo: Steel tank sits at the base of the tower. It will be raised to the top this spring)

Latest News

Construction is underway! The plot of land for the water tower site has been cleared away, and there is now a temporary construction entrance on Old Sauk Rd., across the street and a bit west of the Pope Farm Conservancy parking entrance.

The completed water tower "pedestal" -- the base portion of the water tower that will support the steel water tank -- now stands about 100-feet tall onsite. Steel workers have been on site assembling the sections that make up the top portion of the elevated tank. The assembled tank is currently sitting at the base of the concrete pedestal, where it remain through the winter. When the weather warms up in spring, we'll paint it and carefully raise it to the top of the pedestal. Check out the pictures below of the steel tank and a view from the inside of the pedestal!


Blackhawk exterior and interior

Plans (5.2 MB / PDF File)
Specifications (7.3 MB / PDF File)

About the Tower

Composite Style Water Tower

This type of water tower has a poured concrete base with a steel tank. The reinforced concrete shaft is not painted, reducing long-term maintenance costs. The area inside the shaft also offers potential space for facility or vehicle operations, eliminating the possible need for additional such buildings on site. This would be the first composite style water tower in Madison.

composite water tower

Blackhawk Water Tower FAQs

Q: Why is this project needed?

A: Continued growth on the west side of Madison has introduced an increased water supply demand. Madison’s far west side will eventually be fed from a single pumping system; an additional water tower will allow the city to continue to meet supply and fire flow needs now and into the future.

Q: I currently get my water from a nearby private well.  Will there be an effect on the existing water table in the area?

A: Madison Water Utility does not plan to drill a well at this location so there will not be an effect on the water table from this project. The water tower functions as a storage and distribution vessel; it will be filled with water drawn and pumped from existing wells and booster stations in the City of Madison.
Q: Why is the water tower sited at this particular location?

A: Water tower location is dictated by ground elevation. Placing a water tower at the top of hills or ridges reduces its height and initial expense. This site has a ridge crossing it which provides a good place for a tower.  Due it its ground elevation, Madison Water Utility acquired the land at this site in 2000 in anticipation of the city’s west side growth and the need for a water tower. The nearest existing city water tower on High Point Road is an ideal distance away to maximize hydraulic distribution benefits to the areas of the city in between.
Q: Why is a City of Madison water tower being built in the Town of Middleton?

A: The parcel is owned by Madison Water Utility and will be annexed to the City of Madison during the design phase of the project. Current planning agreements between the Town of Middleton, City of Verona, and City of Madison place Madison’s future westernmost border along Pioneer Road.
Q: Other than a water tower, what are Madison Water Utility’s plans for the site?

A: The total size of the parcel of land is about 17 acres, and Madison Water Utility intends to sell the approximately 15 unused acres after the project is complete. There is no specific plan currently in place for development of the surrounding land, but the City of Madison’s Elderberry Neighborhood Development Plan designates the area as a residential zone.
Q: Once this facility is constructed, will there be a lot of additional traffic around the area?

A: There will not be any significant increase in traffic due to the completion of this project. Aside from uncommon maintenance (repairs, landscaping, painting, etc.), Madison Water Utility staff will be onsite briefly several times a week, usually in a standard-sized pickup truck, to collect water quality samples. A temporary access road to the water tower will likely connect to Old Sauk Road until the area is further developed and a local street system is established.
Q: Will my water rates go up as a result of this project?

A: Madison Water Utility develops a Capital Improvement Program (CIP) annually to update existing facilities, construct additional facilities, and renew infrastructure. Water rates pay for the CIP and all City of Madison rate payers will contribute equally to this project. Rates are routinely reviewed through the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to establish equitable levels based on the Utility’s financial needs. Water rates can be expected to change as necessary over time to cover the cost of the overall CIP.

Q: I often see cellular antennas mounted on water towers.  Will there be any such equipment on this water tower?

A: Federal regulations require that Madison Water Utility cooperate with cell carriers interested in mounting equipment on our water towers. Given their height and location, water towers are attractive to cell carriers for antenna placement, and we expect cell carriers to be interested in placing their equipment on this tower after it is built. Cell carriers who decide to locate on this tower will construct small, ground-level shelters to house their equipment. These shelters will be constructed to minimize impact to the surrounding area to the greatest extent possible.
Q: Will the tower have any lighting that will impact the surrounding area?
A: The top of tower will have aviation warning lights. Madison Water Utility will also have switched lighting that will be used during maintenance of the tower. No other lights are anticipated for the tower.

Get Involved

Want to give feedback on this project?  Use the box on the right side of this page to sign up for project email updates and stay informed. Once you're on the project email list, you'll be notified about upcoming public meetings and get meeting notes, planning documents, design drawings, online surveys and photos. You'll also be able to ask questions and give input at every step along the way to help develop and refine this project. Learn more about our Citizen Advisory Process.

Past Meetings/ Additional Information


April 20, 2017 - Pre-construction meeting held at Town Middleton Town Hall

Information presented at meeting and notes:
Plans (5.2 MB / PDF File)
Specifications (7.3 MB / PDF File)

June 28, 2016 - Public hearing at Madison Water Utility Board meeting

Information presented at meeting:

At the hearing, the Madison Water Utility Board made the following decisions:

  • Tower location on the site (click here to view site map).
  • Composite style water tower with standard concrete base (see example photo above)
  • Two-toned paint scheme on the tank portion of the water tower. Upper portion will be a light blue tone and the lower portion a dark blue tone.

June 16, 2016 - Site location follow up meeting held at Town Middleton Town Hall

Information presented at meeting and notes:

May 24, 2016

- Public hearing at Madison Water Utility Board meeting

Information presented at meeting:

May 5, 2016 - Initial Design Public Meeting held at Town Middleton Town Hall

Information presented at meeting and notes:

Dec. 9, 2015 - Initial Public Meeting held at Town Middleton Town Hall

Information presented at meeting:

Nov. 30, 2015 - Project/Public Meeting postcards sent to 2,179 households

Nov. 02, 2015 - Water Utility Board Meeting held at Madison Water Utility, 119 East Olin Ave.

  • Board approved Baxter & Woodman, Inc. to provide professional engineering services for the design and construction of the water tower