Madison Water Company Considering City-Wide Rationing Strategies | Science and environment

With a contaminated East Side well out of service, the Madison Water Department is considering city-wide conservation strategies in the event of a hot, dry summer.

In a note released Friday, water conservation officer Amy Deming recommends conservation strategies ranging from voluntary two-day watering schedules to a supply emergency that would suspend all non-essential uses – indoors and outdoors – to ensure sufficient water for fire protection.

Each strategy would be triggered by demand levels to be determined by the water manager, who has the power to impose voluntary or mandatory restrictions on outdoor water use under local ordinances.

While the utility is primarily concerned with water supply to the north and east sides, Deming recommends enforcing city-wide conservation strategies.

“This is because the entire Madison community can share the benefits of two-day watering and reduced peak demand,” Deming wrote. “Additionally, the city-wide implementation prepares and familiarizes residents with the two-day watering concept and Tier 1 through 3 alerts in the event of a mechanical failure or other issue in their neighborhood.”

The Water Services Board is expected to discuss the recommendations on Tuesday.

Plans could include options like lockers and showers for commuters on bikes, free passes for residents or employees, or organized carpooling programs.

The utility closed Well 15 on East Washington Avenue in 2019 after tests showed high levels of PFAS, likely the result of groundwater contamination at the nearby airport.

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