The need for new pipes and wells has motivated Madison Water Utility to apply for a rate increase. The utility filed with the state Public Service Commission for a 26 percent revenue increase over three years. This would add $3 to $7 a month to homeowners’ water payments. Currently, customers pay an average of $19 a month. If approved, the new rates would begin in May of 2018.
Although a few extra dollars a month doesn’t seem like much to the average homeowner, it is a different story for local businesses. Ale Asylum Brewery uses around 5 million gallons of water a year, and it costs them “thousands and thousands” of dollars annually. According to co-founder Otto Dilba, the 26 percent increase would be a substantial and he, “hopes there is a better solution than increasing the cost to area businesses.”
The increase would provide an extra $8.7 million in revenue which would be used to replace deteriorating water main pipes, rebuild old wells and improve water quality.
Madison Water Utility Spokesperson, Amy Barrilleaux, says “A water main is supposed to last 100 years. All the way up until the 1980’s our infrastructure was not super old, and then suddenly it was.” She goes on to say that Madison is not alone in this realization. “All across the country, water utilities are realizing that they really need to invest in water infrastructure.”
The proposed increase will also help replace the revenue lost by the closing of their biggest industrial user, the Oscar Mayer plant that shut down earlier this year.
Reporter Alex Cramer has more.