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Madison water usage decreases, rates continue to increase

MADISON (WKOW) – For decades, as population rose in Madison, so did water usage. But times changed, and Madison water usage is down more than 1 billion gallons since 2012.

“Last year, we set a record for the lowest water use as a city in 50 years,” said Amy Barrilleaux of the Madison Water Utility. “This year, we’re even lower.”

Single-family households use 17 fewer gallons per day than they did in 2012.

Barrilleaux says the numbers are drastic and surprising.

“It’s such a shift that we’ve actually hit the city’s water conservation and sustainability goal that was set back in 2006,” she said. “People are more conscious about what they’re using.”

Despite the decrease in usage, water rates have been on the rise. In November, Madison got state-approval to increase water rates by 30.6 percent.

“As population went up, water use went up. As cities grew, so did revenues from people using water,” Barrilleaux said. “In the last decade, that started to change… and so water companies and the community have to deal with that.”

Barrilleaux says that 30.6 percent increase averaged out to about $7 per month per household.

However, Madison Water Utility projects that water rates could continue to increase by 4 percent each year – even with the lower usage.

“I think we know as a community in Madison that we don’t want to keep going the way we used to go,” Barrilleaux said. “But the reality is… we still have to replace these pipes, we still have to have enough water storage to fight fires, we still have to have pump stations to pump water to your home even if you’re using less.”

Barrilleaux said Madison Water Utility will be seeking out public opinion soon on what water-saving initiatives they should pursue in the future, such as increased rebates for water-efficient home appliances.

Andrew Merica

Reporter/Producer, 27 News

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