Today is the day: Imagine a day without water

Thursday, September 15, 2016 - 8:28am

More than a dozen area agencies, municipalities and non-profits are asking people not to take clean water for granted

Today Madison-area municipal services, community leaders and advocacy organizations are participating in Imagine a Day Without Water, a national effort organized by the Value of Water Coalition to educate the public about the water infrastructure crisis currently facing the United States. Water is a vital part of our lives, but the work in preserving, providing and treating water is largely invisible. Local groups and officials are taking to social media to ask citizens to pause several times throughout the day and notice water in their lives—whether drinking coffee, flushing a toilet, fishing on a lake or enjoying produce from the farmer’s market—and consider the water infrastructure that makes each experience possible.
This area enjoys an abundant water supply but changes to the climate and aging infrastructure systems are challenges that municipal services and citizen groups are working to address before a water crisis occurs. Many innovative solutions have come out of this local focus on water sustainability though they often go unseen by the public.

  • Madison Water Utility’s Toilet Rebate Program saved over 500 million gallons of water. Their water conservation measures are paying off – last year, the Utility pumped less water than it has since 1968.
  • The Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District reclaims 40-million gallons of clean water each day and has installed a phosphorus harvesting system to remove, pelletize and export phosphorus.
  • Through the Yahara WINs project, local homeowners, farmers, treatment plants and municipalities are working together to reduce phosphorus pollution in our lakes and streams.
  • The WISaltWise Partnership is working with residents, businesses and municipalities to minimize salt in our freshwater streams, lakes and drinking water.
  • Dane County added a Clean Beach System at Mendota County Park where shallow water in a protected area near the shore is being run through filters and ultraviolet treatment and, through the Dane County Watershed Network, develops and strengthens strategic partnerships among organizations to complete projects, hold events, develop policies, and take other actions that improve water quality and habitat.
  • The Capital Area Regional Planning Commission updates the Dane County Water Quality Plan and collaborates with communities on its implementation.
  • The Clean Lakes Alliance develops an annual State of the Lakes Report bringing regional attention to the water quality of the lakes.
  • The Madison Area Municipal Stormwater Partnership works with homeowners and organizations on practices to reduce and improve quality of stormwater runoff.
  • Even the Henry Vilas Zoo is in on the act with a state-of-the-art system in the Arctic Passage Exhibit which filters and recycles the water for the Polar Bear’s pool, saving over 2 million gallons of water a year.

The City of Madison and Middleton both passed resolutions to recognize the importance of the day. Madison’s resolution stated in part that “clean and safe water access is fundamental to a healthy life and provides an essential foundation for a vibrant local economy” and “it wouldn’t be summer in Madison without enjoying an ice cream cone while dipping ones toes in Lake Mendota.” Middleton’s proclaimed that “investing in our drinking water and wastewater systems will secure a bright and prosperous future for generations to come”; and “innovation in water conservation and water reuse will drive job growth, economic development, and establish a 21st century paradigm of water management in the United States.”

Imagine a Day Without Water coincides with the annual meeting of the Wisconsin Section of the American Water Works Association at Monona Terrace in Madison where key issues surrounding Wisconsin’s water supply are being discussed. Session topics include contaminants which are becoming a concern in public drinking water, the repair and replacement of water utility infrastructure, and the growing amount of road salt in groundwater. There is a large focus on the safety and structure of wells following the recent attention to E.coli contamination in Kewaunee County wells, and also a discussion on reducing risk of lead exposure during construction work affecting lead service lines.    

Local participants in Imagine a Day Without Water include Madison Water Utility, Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, Madison Fire Department, Public Health Madison & Dane County, Yahara WINS, Dane County Land and Water Resources, Madison Area Municipal Stormwater Partnership, Dane County Office of Lakes and Watersheds, Capital Area Regional Planning Commission, Friends of the Capital Springs Recreation Area, Clean Lakes Alliance, Friends of Lake Wingra, Town of Westport, Village of Cottage Grove, City of Madison, City of Middleton, WiSaltWise & the Wisconsin Section of the American Water Works Association.

The Value of Water Coalition is a group of thirty water and wastewater providers, water-reliant businesses and policy organizations dedicated to educating and inspiring the nation about how water is essential and in need of investment. The Value of Water Coalition is coordinated by the US Water Alliance, a national non-profit dedicated to securing a sustainable water future for all.
Participating Partners:
Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District
Madison Water Utility
Madison Fire Department
Public Health Madison & Dane County
Yahara WINS
Dane County Land and Water Resources
Madison Area Municipal Stormwater Partnership
Dane County Office of Lakes and Watersheds
Capital Area Regional Planning Commission
Friends of the Capital Springs Recreation Area
Clean Lakes Alliance
Friends of Lake Wingra
Town of Westport
Village of Cottage Grove
City of Madison
City of Middleton
Wisconsin Section of the American Water Works Association


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