About the Project

Ops center before and after

Phase 1 of the project, rebuilding the outdated and cramped Operations Center at 110 S. Paterson St., is largely complete. Phase 2  will include rebuilding the nearby Vehicle Storage Building. 
Current estimated total projected cost (Phases 1 and 2): $15.2 million.

Latest News

Thanks to everyone who came out to our Paterson Operations Center Open House (and 135th Anniversary Celebration).  
Kids watching tapping team

(Photo: Crowd gathers to watch pipe tapping demonstration at Open House)


Check out the final Ops Center (below) and the landscaping plan. 

New Paterson Ops Center

Design Details in Response to Public Feedback

Initial neighborhood project feedback included a desire for more trees/greenery at the site, a bike rack for neighborhood use, possible solar panels, rainwater catch area, and the use of geothermal wells. Here's how we addressed the feedback in our facility design:

Interest in adding more landscaping/trees/greenery to the site

The project will provide landscaping on the Main Street side of the lot. A contamination plume from a leaking underground tank exists over much of the site. This area was cleaned up per DNR requirements and sealed. No infiltration is permitted in the area of the plume. Therefore no landscaping can be added to the existing parking lot.

The latest design does include a partial green roof and wall trellises.

Request for a public bike rack

One is provided on Paterson Street at the main entrance to the building.

Request for solar panels

Madison Water Utility hopes to add solar panels to the existing vehicle storage building in 2017.

Request for a rainwater collection area

This feature is not permitted on the Operations building site by the DNR as noted above. Rainwater will be captured and reused for truck washing in the vehicle storage building.

Request for geothermal wells

This option was looked at but not pursued due to the contamination plume noted above.

Water fountain and bottle filler

An all-season water fountain and bottle filler will be installed on the exterior of the building on Paterson Street.

Get Involved

Want to give feedback on this project? Use the box on the right side of this page to sign up for project email updates and stay informed.Once you're on the project email list, you'll be notified about upcoming public meetings and get meeting notes, planning documents, design drawings, online surveys and photos. You'll also be able to ask questions and give input at every step along the way, working closely with neighbors and the alder for the area, Marsha Rummel, to develop and refine this project. Learn more about our Citizen Advisory Process.

Business office sign

Project Background

The "Ops Center" has been a part of the Marquette neighborhood for more than 85 years and is one of the Utility's most critical facilities in the city, ensuring that hundreds of thousands of people have access to safe, clean water. The current 1920's-era building is used 24 hours a day and serves as a home base for Madison Water Utility's dispatch center and emergency repair crews. Its central location on the Isthmus allows emergency crews to quickly respond to main breaks and other issues across Madison.

  • 65 full time employees work at the Ops Center
  • They respond to approximately 4000 work orders per year
  • They fix an average of 250 main breaks per year
  • The inspect and repair an average of 6,100 valves per year
  • They inspect and repair an average of 5,100 fire hydrants per year
  • They flush over 500 miles of water main every year
  • They maintain 22 wells sites, 5 elevated tanks, 8 large ground level reservoirs, and 6 stand alone pumping stations.
  • They maintain and repair 87 vehicles of all types and sizes, 8 tractor mounted backhoes, and forklifts, mowers, generators, welders, arrow boards, sweepers, a Bobcat and other miscellaneous equipment.

Emergency repair crew at main break    Emergency repair crew member at main break


Frequently Asked Questions

Why is this project needed?

The existing facility is undersized, cramped and inefficient for current needs. Maintaining dump trucks, backhoes, and other equipment is difficult and dangerous for employees. Locker rooms, office space, and other areas are in need of updating and expanding. Technology is changing and the facility needs to be updated to bring it up to current standards. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning is inadequate and air quality is questionable. The facility has served its useful life and needs to be replaced. MWU planned to replace the facility in 2006; however, budget constraints forced delay of the project. Learn more about the safety and logistical issues MWU employees have faced at this aging facility on our Inside MWU page.

Why does MWU want to stay in this location?

This centralized location provides a significant logistical advantage in responding to emergencies and system maintenance requirements. Most of the oldest parts of the city's water system are located on the Isthmus and require frequent attention

Why doesn't MWU move everything to its Olin Avenue location?

Moving all of our operations to our Olin Avenue site would require the addition of 3-4 acres of property at the Olin site. This additional property is currently unavailable from either Dane County or from the waste transfer station to the west. Any property acquisition there would also likely require mitigation of an adjacent existing landfill, adding additional expense to the project.

Will the facility be designed as a “green” facility?

MWU and the architect will work closely with the neighborhood to ensure that the building is environmentally friendly meets the sustainability goals of the City.

Will we have an opportunity to weigh in on the look and configuration of the new Ops Center?

MWU will host a series of public meetings and post information on this project web page to solicit input from interested citizens to shape the project. If you are interested in participating, please contact us at water@madisonwater.org.

Will the existing Ops Center building at the site will be incorporated into the new building?

The lower portion of the building along Paterson will be demolished and rebuilt as indicated in the aerial photo below. The taller portion of the building will be refurbished, remodeled, and reused.

Aerial view on Paterson St. Ops Center

How long will it take to build?

Construction is expected to take two years to complete.

What will the new facility look like?

The architect has developed architectural renderings of the building for public comment and feedback. Links to these site plans and renderings are provided above.  It is our intent to design and construct a building that fits into the neighborhood.

How much will it cost?

MWU is spending $10.5 million for reconstruction of the Operations Building and plans to spend $3.7 million for needed improvements to the Vehicle Storage Building, along with $1 million in architect's fees. Total project cost: $15.2 million.

Will my water rates go up as a result of this project?

MWU develops a Capital Improvement Program (CIP) annually to update existing facilities, construct additional facilities, and renew our infrastructure. Water rates pay for the CIP and all rate payers will contribute equally to this project. MWU routinely reviews rates and works through the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to establish equitable rates based on the utility’s financial needs. Water rates are expected to rise as necessary to cover the cost of the overall CIP.

When will construction start?

The hope is to be under construction in September of 2015.

Once this facility is constructed will there be a lot of additional traffic around the area?

There will not be an increase in traffic due to the completion of this project.

Emergency crews based at the Ops Center respond to hundreds of main breaks across Madison

Operations Center    Operations Center Location


Additional Information and Meeting Notes

August 4, 2015 - Common Council Mtg 

Common Council approved the recommendation from both the Board of Public Works and the Water Utility Board to award the construction contract for our new Operations Center to Joe Daniels Construction.

March 10, 2015 - MWU Board Mtg

Presentation to Water Utility Board

Operations Center initial design
Vehicle Storage Building initial site plan & design

Site and floor plans

Feb. 18 - 19, 2015 - Public Meeting, Marquette Neighborhood Association board meeting:

Conceptual designs, project components, and the project schedule were all discussed at the public meeting held on Feb. 18 and the Marquette Neighborhood Association board meeting held on Feb. 19. Feedback included a desire for more trees/greenery at the site, a bike rack for neighborhood use, possible solar panels, rainwater catch area, and the use of geothermal wells. Some neighbors were concerned about traffic around the site, screening utility storage areas, and the location of a fence near the site's Vehicle Storage Building. Take a look at the meeting minutes below, as well as the initial design plan that was presented.

June 24, 2014 - MWU Board Mtg

Board approved plans for a $7.4 million overhaul of this vital Madison facility.

December 2013 to June 2014

During the winter, spring and early summer of 2014, Madison Water Utility staff worked with City Planning staff to evaluate the feasibility of constructing a parking ramp in the Paterson Street - Main Street area.  The investigation involved several meetings, coordination with Alders for the area, developing and reviewing multiple configurations and layouts, and considering potential costs and funding sources.  Following this process, it was recommended to the Water Utility Board that the Utility reconstruct the Operations Center on the existing site.  At the June 2014 Water Utility Board meeting, the Board accepted the recommendation and directed the project team to proceed with the rebuild at the existing site.  The architect, Mead and Hunt, has been working with the Utility project team to update the building layout, to develop project phasing, and to evaluate early design concepts.

November 18, 2013 - Initial public meeting

Lots of great questions and input during our first public meeting, which was held at the Operations Center at 110 South Paterson St. Community members got a chance to tour the aging facility as well as the site across the street where the Ops Center will be relocated. Also mentioned by some at the meeting was the 2004 East Rail Corridor Plan and Recommendations report, which emphasizes economic development and job creation for the area.

Detailed minutes, 11/18/2013 initial public meeting