The composition of wastewater produced at food establishments contains higher levels of food waste as well as fats, oils, and greases, all of which cost more to treat at the wastewater treatment plant in comparison to typical wastewater from homes and office buildings. The higher sewer rates for food establishments aligns the higher costs of treating this stronger strength sewage away from standard sewer customers to the customers that generate it, as well as to encourage better maintenance of grease trap systems. 

Grease Trap Maintenance

Food establishments are required to submit a grease trap maintenance report annually.

Reports are due before April 1 each year. A submission is required for each restaurant and food service location. If there are multiple restaurants that share a grease trap, a grease trap maintenance report will be required for each restaurant. Refer to our help guide for assistance.

Failure to submit annual grease trap maintenance reports will financially penalize and move the billing to Tier 3 sanitary sewer utility rates. Customer moved to the Tier 3 rate can be moved back to the Tier 1 or 2 rate with successful completion of the required maintenance and online reporting. 

Tier 1 is comprised of businesses that actively participate in a recognized and approved organics (food scraps)/composting collection and recycling program and provide evidence of participation. They have a slightly lower sewer billing rates compared to the other tiers because composting leads to less food waste down the drain.

Tier 2 consists of majority of the restaurant and food establishments. These facilities have grease traps in good standing and are submitting proof of grease trap maintenance a minimum of once a year. New food establishments start at this tier by default.

Tier 3 are food establishments who have failed to submit their grease trap maintenance report.
Tier 1 Sewer Rate: Sewer Usage Charge plus 28%
Tier 2 Sewer Rate: Sewer Usage Charge plus 56%
Tier 3 Sewer Rate: Sewer Usage Charge plus 120%

Mixed-Use Buildings

Some food establishments are part of a multi-use building or strip mall and share a water meter with residential and/or non-food related businesses.  If this applies to your facility, you may be subject to only a portion of your building being assessed at the Restaurant Sewer Rates.

Estimating Water Usage Split in Mixed Use Buildings

If it is impractical to separately meter a multi-use building to accurately reflect the volume subject to Restaurant Class billing, the customer may petition the City Engineer for a reduction based on the mixed uses of the building using the Mixed Use Building Proration Petition Checklist

If the petition is approved, the customer shall be billed a flat monthly fee of $10 plus a calculated percentage of the total volume based on industry averages.  Refunds are not applicable to customers in the Restaurant Class for billings prior to the time of any adjustment request submitted by the customer.

Installing Additional Water Meters

It is strongly encouraged that facilities have separate or sub-meter(s) installed to accurately measure the businesses affected by the Restaurant Class billing rates.  The following details the steps to take to accomplish this:

  1. Hire

    Facility shall hire their own plumber to determine the current plumbing layout, determine which lines feed which businesses, and install additional piping if needed. Note, meters are not rated for high temperatures and can therefore only be installed on cold-water feeds.

  2. Decide on a Meter

    Depending on the plumbing layout of the building, either a new separate water meter or a sub-meter shall be installed.

  3. Call Us

    If the application is complete, City Engineering or the Water Utility will contact the applicant to schedule a time to have an additional meter(s) installed.

Tier 1 Food Scraps Composting Program

Businesses that actively participate in a recognized and approved organics/food scrap composting collection and recycling program and provide evidence of participation shall be considered a Tier 1 customer for billing purposes.

Active participation is considered the following:

  • In-house implementation of organics recycling program.
    • Provide a copy of company policy or a written description of practices used by employees to ensure proper separation of organics vs non organic waste.
    • Provide photos of designated organics collection station(s)/receptacles located in the food preparation area of the facility.
  • Collection of organic waste a minimum of once per week by an approved 3rd party Organics Recycling Provider.  Provide the name of the Organic Recycling Provider and copies of receipts and/or contracts from which detail the amount or frequency of collection.

Submit evidence of 1a, 1b, and 2 annually online during annual grease trap maintenance reporting. Tier 1 billing rates will not be applied until all evidence is submitted. Retroactive rates adjustment will not apply. Customers that fail to submit proof of annual organics recycling participation, but submit grease trap maintenance shall fall to Tier 2. Customers that fail to submit proof of annual grease trap maintenance shall fall to Tier 3.

Participants may be audited with an onsite inspection by the Madison Sewer Utility for compliance.

Questions regarding the Restaurant Class billing program can be emailed to SanitarySewerBilling@cityofmadison.com.