Annual water use drops again in Madison

Thursday, January 5, 2017 - 10:07am

In 2015, Madison’s annual water use made headlines when it dropped below 10 billion gallons for the first time in 47 years. In 2016, water use was down again -- 1.3 percent from the year before. Madison Water Utility pumped 9.85 billion gallons of water to homes, schools and businesses across the city in 2016, that’s 129 million gallons less than 2015.
Almost half of the drop comes from the upcoming closure of Madison’s Oscar Mayer plant, which has long been the biggest water user in the city. Last year, the plant used 285.5 million gallons of water, which is about 62 million gallons less than it used 2015. Madison Water Utility expects the plant to only use about 50 million gallons of water in 2017 before production ceases in the spring.
Madison also had an unusually wet year with about 45 inches of precipitation. All the rain over the summer helped limit outdoor watering of lawns and gardens.
Dropping water use signals a major change for Madison. In 2001, water use peaked at more than 12 billion gallons, which coincided with a drawdown in aquifer levels. Madison Water Utility has since been working hard to encourage conservation through its popular Toilet Rebate Program, which has saved a more than a half billion gallons of water since 2009. And more than 8 thousand families are now tracking their daily water use online through the utility’s web-based conservation tool. More efficient appliances, toilets, plumbing fixtures and industrial equipment, along with more sustainable outdoor watering practices, have also contributed to an overall decline in water use across the city.


Water Utility