The average family living in a house in Madison pays just over $19 a month for water. (Other charges like sewer, stormwater, landfill and urban forestry also appear on the Municipal Services Bill, but those charges are not levied by Madison Water Utility.) 

So how exactly does that money get spent? Here's a look:

Infrastructure Repair & Maintenance: 10%

Depending on the winter, MWU crews will repair between 200 and 500 main breaks in a year. Crews are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to fix breaks and get the water back on for customers as quickly as possible.

Main break

Major Public Works Projects: 42%

Water towers, pump stations, wells and reservoirs -- Madison Water Utility is continually renewing Madison's aging water infrastructure and building new facilities to provide service and fire protection as the city grows.

Water Tower Construction

Water Testing & Treatment: 2%

MWU conducts tens of thousands of water quality and safety tests every year, more tests than are required by the EPA. The tests ensure that Madison's water meets or exceeds all standards for health and safety established under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Water Testing

Fire Protection: 11%

Madison Water Utility maintains every public fire hydrant in the city, more than 8,000 in all. Each one must be working and ready to provide water in an emergency.

hydrant maintenance

Pumping Energy & Maintenance: 13%

About 8 tons of water are pulled out of the ground every minute at every operating well in Madison (there are 22 wells in all). The city relies on powerful pumping equipment to pull water out of the ground, then push it throughout Madison's 900 miles of water mains.

Pumping maintenance

Transfer to the City's General Fund: 19%

Madison Water Utility transfers about $6 million a year to the city's general fund. The utility is a non-profit and tax-exempt, so it is required to make this payment instead of paying taxes. The City of Madison is able to use that money in any way it needs.

Education, Conservation & Administration: 3%

Hundreds of students from across Madison visit MWU facilities every year to see where their water comes from and learn how to use it in a sustainable way.

Field trip

Serving Madison isn't just about our water infrastructure under the ground. Madison Water Utility also has an infrastructure of people who keep the utility running -- people in the office answering phones, people monitoring the pumping system, testing and repairing meters, overseeing backflow prevention and cross connection control, keeping vehicles running, doing the budgeting and planning. They all try to make sure the MWU is run in the best way possible and can continue to be a public asset for the City of Madison.

Want to know more about how you use water? Join the 9,000 MWU customers who are tracking their water use online! Learn how to view your weekly, daily and even hourly water use and set up usage threshold alerts.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Madison Water Utility and a link back to the original post.