2021 has been a dry year for Madison. The city has seen about half as much precipitation as it did at this point in 2020, putting us well behind the levels necessary to meet the yearly average.
On May 25th, Madison’s Water Utility Board unanimously accepted a new set of strategies aimed at decreasing strain on the city’s water supply during the summer months.
At this point in the year, the water supply is not having any problems keeping up with consumer demand, but this could easily change if precipitation rates do not increase. The Madison Water Utility’s newly approved strategies are designed to act as a contingency plan that can be used if consumer demand for water threatens to overcome the city’s water supply.
Madison’s Water Quality Manager Joe Grande took some time at the meeting to explain to the board why it’s important to have a plan in place going into the year’s warmer months.
“Consumer demand determines how much water we need to pump. There’s a base amount of demand that we have, but in the summer months that demand increases, often due to warm conditions and dry conditions. What we’re proposing tonight is to manage both sides of that water equation, both the supply and the consumer demand,” Grande said.
New strategies to manage consumer demand include voluntary recommendations for alternate side watering. This would mean that the city could ask residents to limit outdoor water use to certain days of the week depending on whether they live on the odd or even side of their street.
If demand remains high, these recommended restrictions on outdoor water use could be made mandatory. Only in the event of an emergency, such as a natural disaster or massive water system failure, would any restrictions on indoor and other non-essential water use be put in place.
Speaking with WORT reporter Nora-Kathleen Berryhill earlier this week, Water Utility outreach specialist Amy Deming explained that water management strategies can be much more cost effective for communities than constructing new wells.
“Outdoor watering schedules and alternate day watering and things like that are not anything new in the water industry…it’s something that is very common as a strategy to reduce demand and to save cost for utilities. Especially if new sources of supply are expensive, implementing something like this can save communities a lot of money over adding a new source of supply to the system,” Deming said.
Current plans for implementing the new strategies will be focused on the city’s northeast side. If the strategies prove to be effective in managing the water supply, the Water Utility hopes to see wider implementation across the entire city.
The Water Utility can now incorporate the approved strategies into an implementation plan. When completed, that plan will again come before the Water Utility Board for approval.
Image courtesy of Sister Perish on Flickr