Sustainability

What does sustainability mean to you? At Madison Water Utility, it means improved leak detection, renewing Madison's water infrastructure, preserving water quality, and engaging the public through outreach and education. It also means working to reduce Madison's carbon footprint by promoting water conservation initiatives. The less water we pull from the aquifer, the less energy we need to power motors and pumps in our facilities.

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.

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population and pumpage
Even as our population grows in Madison, good conservation practices will ensure that our overall water use as a city will stay the same. And that means paying close attention to how much water we're using.

What you can do

Track your weekly, daily, and even hourly water use online
Madison Water Utility is the first in Wisconsin to offer its customers online access to view their hourly water usage. Use our online conservation tool to see when you're using water and pinpoint areas where you can conserve.

Set up a water usage threshold alert
Madison Water Utility’s online conservation tool also lets you choose the number of gallons you want to use on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Go over that number and you’ll get an email alert.

Take advantage of Madison Water Utility’s Toilet Rebate Program 
Madison Water Utility customers can get a $100 bill credit for replacing an older toilet with an EPA-rated high efficiency model. Replacing an old toilet with one that uses just 1.28 gallons-per-flush can save 4,000 - 10,000 gallons of water every year.

Check out our Conservation Tips 
See how small changes can add up to big water savings and help preserve Madison's aquifer.

What we're doing

Rebuilding & Renewing
When a water main breaks, it doesn't just mean an expensive and sometimes time-consuming repair. It also means the loss of high-quality drinking water. That's why our major goal over the next several decades is the rebuilding and renewing of Madison's massive water infrastructure.

Wellhead Protection
Ensuring that future generations will have access to high quality water is a top priority. Through our Wellhead Protection Program, we work with the City to restrict future land uses that could lead to contamination of the water entering our wells.

Public Outreach & Education 
Preserving a safe, reliable water supply for future generations is key to our mission at Madison Water Utility. But we can only protect our aquifer and care for Madison's vital drinking water infrastructure if the public shares that goal. That's why make community outreach and education a priority.

Why Conserve?

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 resource, 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. Get rare inside look Madison's aquifer below:

Our carbon footprint - Madison Water Utility uses more energy than any other city agency. Pumping 8 tons of water every minute from every operating well in Madison takes an enormous amount of energy. Conservation initiatives like our Toilet Rebate Program not only save water, they save the energy it takes to pump and distribute water. The Toilet Rebate Program alone has saved enough energy to power 260 Madison homes for a year.

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 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