Case studies

Madison Water Utility

In this WaterNow Alliance case study, we document Madison’s city-wide lead service line replacement program to comply with drinking water standards

Project at a Glance

Utility Overview

  • Utility: Madison Water Utility
  • Location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Population served: 250,000
  • Service area: 100 square miles


  • Elevated levels of lead in drinking water
  • Need for innovative way to meet the requirements of the Lead and Copper Rule


  • A comprehensive Lead Line Replacement Program that mandated all lead service lines, both on public and private property, in Madison are replaced over a 10-year period.

Costs and Funding Sources

  • Total program cost: ~$15.5 million
    • Reimbursements Replacement Cost (Private lead lines): ~$3.8 million
    • Replacement Cost (Public lead lines): ~$9.6 million
  • Funding sources:
    • Antenna rental revenues: Used for replacements on private property
    • Capital improvement budget: $1-1.5 million annually between 2000 and 2006 used for utility-side lead service replacements (approximately 15% of overall annual capital budget); less than $100,000 annually after 2006

Puts Madison on the map as a national leader for service line replacement
Improves water quality and reduces lead levels in drinking water
Protects public health and safety
Saves approximately $2.5 million in costs (as of 2018) by avoiding the need for ongoing treatment
Engages the community

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