Madison's annual water use down 1 billion gallons in last 6 years

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Henry Vilas
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Madison's annual water use down 1 billion gallons in last 6 years

Postby Henry Vilas » Thu Jan 17, 2019 3:18 pm

DeMorett attributes the low in water usage to fewer people watering lawns last summer due to more rainfall and more efficient plumbing fixtures and appliances, along with a sharp decline in industrial water use.

Industrial water use in Madison is down 73 percent from seven years ago. The closings of two big water users in Madison, Oscar Mayer and Bimbo Bakeries, in recent years have contributed to this.


Since the Madison Water Utility is taking in less money due to lower use, they raise their rates. I've noticed the increase in recent monthly bills.

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Re: Madison's annual water use down 1 billion gallons in last 6 years

Postby Shorty » Thu Jan 17, 2019 3:23 pm

Good news. Another good reason for Oscar Mayer to close. Bad about the increased rainfall, though.

I've done my part by installing a low flow toilet. You can get a $100 rebate from the city:
https://www.cityofmadison.com/water/sus ... let-rebate

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Re: Madison's annual water use down 1 billion gallons in last 6 years

Postby gozer » Thu Jan 17, 2019 3:46 pm

so the baseline was 2012, a year of 1930s' style drought? why is it a good thing that oscar mayer is closed?

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Re: Madison's annual water use down 1 billion gallons in last 6 years

Postby Henry Vilas » Thu Jan 17, 2019 4:06 pm

Shorty, how are higher rates good news?

FYI, I installed a low flow toilet years ago.

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Re: Madison's annual water use down 1 billion gallons in last 6 years

Postby gargantua » Thu Jan 17, 2019 4:30 pm

Henry Vilas wrote:Shorty, how are higher rates good news?

FYI, I installed a low flow toilet years ago.

This is my problem with both the water utility and MG&E. They expect a certain amount of revenue. If their customers conserve, their revenues decline. So they raise rates. Basically this takes away the financial incentive to conserve energy and water. I think it sucks.

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Re: Madison's annual water use down 1 billion gallons in last 6 years

Postby Shorty » Thu Jan 17, 2019 7:22 pm

Lower water usage is good news. If that means higher rates, so be it. Would be good if gas prices rise, also.

Was good Oscar closed because red meat eating is unhealthy and bad for the environment. What decade are you two guys living in? Have you heard of water conservation and the benefits of vegetarian eating?

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Re: Madison's annual water use down 1 billion gallons in last 6 years

Postby gargantua » Thu Jan 17, 2019 8:04 pm

No Shorty, I've never heard of any of those things. Were you out with the mumps when they taught reading comprehension in grade school?

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Re: Madison's annual water use down 1 billion gallons in last 6 years

Postby snoqueen » Thu Jan 17, 2019 8:30 pm

gargantua wrote:
Henry Vilas wrote:Shorty, how are higher rates good news?

FYI, I installed a low flow toilet years ago.

This is my problem with both the water utility and MG&E. They expect a certain amount of revenue. If their customers conserve, their revenues decline. So they raise rates. Basically this takes away the financial incentive to conserve energy and water. I think it sucks.


Look at it another way.

The revenue needed by the water utility covers the maintenance of a fairly fixed infrastructure: the wells themselves, testing and quality control of the water, the delivery system including pipes and a few water towers and reservoirs, and other fairly obvious functions. We know some of the delivery system is outdated and needs to be on a schedule of replacement that's unlikely to end anytime soon. (The pipes serving Schenks Corners are supposed to be replaced this summer or next, and city engineering told us at a meeting the pipes went back to 1915).

In addition unforeseen expenses like well replacement due to pollution have to be budgeted for.

The water utility has to pay for all this regardless of what income it gets from its customers. We can use less and less water, but the water is essentially more like a mineral resource than a manufactured product of the utility. (Aquifers are considered mineral resources by some economists.) You could use 10 gallons or 1000 gallons, but the cost of delivering it to your sink remains pretty much constant.

For us as individual households to use less of this resource (which recharges naturally, but is not unlimited) is a good long term conservation practice. However, it's not really a big determinant of the expenses of the water utility on an annual basis.

If Madison was in a desert and had to purchase its water from some central water authority, things might get different. But we're lucky enough to sit on a good aquifer and if we use our water thoughtfully, our expenses are mostly distribution and quality control.

I know it's annoying to see cost per-unit-consumed go up as usage goes down, but there's some logic behind it.

MG&E and electricity sourcing and billing is a whole other discussion.

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Re: Madison's annual water use down 1 billion gallons in last 6 years

Postby gozer » Thu Jan 17, 2019 10:15 pm

snoqueen wrote:
gargantua wrote:
Henry Vilas wrote:Shorty, how are higher rates good news?

FYI, I installed a low flow toilet years ago.

This is my problem with both the water utility and MG&E. They expect a certain amount of revenue. If their customers conserve, their revenues decline. So they raise rates. Basically this takes away the financial incentive to conserve energy and water. I think it sucks.


Look at it another way.

The revenue needed by the water utility covers the maintenance of a fairly fixed infrastructure: the wells themselves, testing and quality control of the water, the delivery system including pipes and a few water towers and reservoirs, and other fairly obvious functions. We know some of the delivery system is outdated and needs to be on a schedule of replacement that's unlikely to end anytime soon. (The pipes serving Schenks Corners are supposed to be replaced this summer or next, and city engineering told us at a meeting the pipes went back to 1915).


a while ago the wisconsin state journal did a comprehensive story on these issues complete with charts and graphs, and apparently the well, pumping station, and a lot of the piping in the vicinity of union corners, east high school &c date to 1888; i think that is where somewhat elevated manganese levels were intermittently found . . . i heard from someone else around the same time that there are some pipes in the neighbourhoods east of the capitol going back to c 1850 and are actually in decent shape all other things being equal (tree roots can do quite a number on pipes of all descriptions)

In addition unforeseen expenses like well replacement due to pollution have to be budgeted for.

The water utility has to pay for all this regardless of what income it gets from its customers. We can use less and less water, but the water is essentially more like a mineral resource than a manufactured product of the utility. (Aquifers are considered mineral resources by some economists.) You could use 10 gallons or 1000 gallons, but the cost of delivering it to your sink remains pretty much constant.

For us as individual households to use less of this resource (which recharges naturally, but is not unlimited) is a good long term conservation practice. However, it's not really a big determinant of the expenses of the water utility on an annual basis.

If Madison was in a desert and had to purchase its water from some central water authority, things might get different. But we're lucky enough to sit on a good aquifer and if we use our water thoughtfully, our expenses are mostly distribution and quality control.

I know it's annoying to see cost per-unit-consumed go up as usage goes down, but there's some logic behind it.

MG&E and electricity sourcing and billing is a whole other discussion.


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