MADISON – On Saturday, December 4, 2021, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC or Commission) will join water utilities and water conservation groups nationwide in recognizing World Water Loss Day. The purpose of the day is to raise awareness of the significant challenges of water losses from drinking water distribution systems. In addition, to help sustain natural and financial resources locally, the PSC’s Water Loss Control Initiative requires utilities to report annually on their water system efficiency and take actions to reduce their water losses where necessary.
According to 2020 PSC Annual Reports, Wisconsin water utilities pumped, treated, and distributed approximately 178.2 billion gallons of water. However, utilities did not collect revenue for 26.7 billion gallons of that water produced. These gallons translate to a loss of approximately $92 million due to leaks, main and service line breaks, and utility operations. The Commission frequently recommends utilities use the American Water Works Association’s Free Water Audit Software, available for download here, to conduct annual water audits.
“It is important we continue improving our water distribution systems to help keep the services offered more efficient and customer bills affordable,” said PSC Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq. “Wisconsin has done a great job decreasing the amount of water loss by working with our utility partners and identifying systems that require repair. I encourage utilities to take advantage of the free resources to help them better understand their water losses and develop cost-effective plans to improve their system efficiency.”
Currently, the PSC oversees more than 575 drinking water and wastewater (sanitary sewer) utilities across the state. To help utilities address aging infrastructure and regulatory compliance needs, the Commission has authorized water supply, treatment, storage, and distribution and transmission projects throughout the state. These projects have increased capacity and improved water quality, public safety, system reliability, and business efficiency.
In addition, the Commission has approved utilities’ requests to cash fund water main replacements that will reduce disruptions, financial losses, and water quality concerns due to water main breaks. These decisions also provided a steady funding source dedicated to modernizing those utilities’ buried infrastructure.
According to the 2021 Value of Water Index, 83% of Americans said ensuring a stable supply of water should be a top federal priority. They also ranked addressing water contamination and investing in infrastructure as top priorities. Funding available through the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act represents a historic opportunity for many water utilities to respond to this top priority by making necessary investments in their infrastructure.