City of Madison

City of Madison Engineering | Photo Credit: Archie Nicolette


Image: Sanitary Sewer
Sanitary Sewer manages, operates, constructs and maintains the Madison Sewer Utility. The Sewer Utility directs the planning, design, construction and repair of public sanitary sewer facilities. All proposed land use changes are reviewed for sanitary sewer impact prior to approval. Extensions to the public sewerage system are financed by the owners of lands directly benefiting from the improvements, or through construction by private developers. Developers construct sewers at their own expense in accordance with City design standards and specifications. The Sewer Utility assumes ownership and responsibility for maintenance and operation of these sewers upon acceptance of the improvements by the Common Council. Maintenance efforts include the repair, cleaning, and removal of blockages in over 665 miles of sewer main managed by Sewer Utility.


Restaurant Class Sanitary Billing Program

En Español: Mantenimiento de colectores de grasa para locales gastronómicos

Hauv Hmong: Kev Tu Xyuas Chaw Cug Kua Roj Nplaum Txhua Xyoo rau Cov Khw Ua Noj

In 2017, the Common Council approved revisions to Chapter 35 of the Madison General Ordinances for the Madison Sanitary Sewer Utility to establish a sanitary sewer billing rate classification for food establishments. 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 intention of the ordinance revision is to shift the costs of treating the higher 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

Instructions for filling out the grease trap maintenance report: Guide

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. 

Failure to submit annual grease trap maintenance reports will be financially penalized and moved 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. More information on Tier 1 participation.

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.

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 detail the steps to take to accomplish this:

  1. 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. Depending on the plumbing layout of the building, either a new separate water meter or a sub-meter shall be installed.  
  3. 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.

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.

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:

  1. In-house implementation of organics recycling program.

1a.  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.

          1b.  Provide photos of designated organics collection station(s)/receptacles located in            the food preparation area of the facility.

    2.  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   

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 .