Madison Water blames proposed hike on expenses, people using less water

Water could get more expensive in Madison.
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 6:28 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Water could get more expensive in Madison.

The Madison Water Utility has applied to increase water rates and is waiting for a response from the Public Service Commission. If the request is approved, the average customer would see monthly bills go up from about $30 to $35.

“We need to have more funds to operate at an optimal level and to improve our infrastructure,” Marcus Pearson, public information officer, said.

The utility wants to raise water revenues about $8.5 million, or roughly 18 percent more than current revenues. According to Finance Manager Kathy Schwenn, the figure comes from estimated future expenses and future capital expenses based on current rates.

“Another indirect reason why we need the 18 percent is because water usage has gone down 2 percent every single year for the last decade, which is great because we’re conserving more, we’re being more sustainable as a community. However, we sell water,” Pearson said.

A public notice by the utility explains, “The increase is necessary due to a 5.8 percent increase in gross plant investment and a 3.2 percent increase in operating expenses since the last water rate case was completed in 2020.”

The utility serves more than 270,000 residents in the city, according to Pearson.

He said with more than 900 miles of pipeline, the utility could improve about a third of it.

According to the public notice, an increase would only apply to water charges on customers’ bills. Charges for sewer, storm water, landfill, resource recovery and urban forestry are not a part of this rate application.

Anyone under half the median income would qualify for a customer affordability program, Pearson said.

A virtual public hearing has been set for Wednesday, September 7 at 10 a.m. Details on how to attend the session can be found here on the city’s website.