Water Shortage Hits Madison's West Side

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

Stem the sprinkling when it comes to yards on the West Side. That's the message coming from Madison Water Utility after a problem with one of its pumping stations. It affects people living West of Whitney Way and North of Raymond Road.

"Last three, four years, we haven't seen anything like this," Dave Denig-Chakroff, general manager of Madison Water Utility, says.

"We're asking all customers just to try to use water wisely during this hot dry period."

Especially customers on Madison's far West Side.

"We're asking people to conserve water in that area until we can catch up, get that water reservoir re-filled and have reserves we need," he says.

A spokesperson for Alliant Energy says high demand combined with high temperatures caused a fuse to blow at this pumping station. That shut down the station for 12 hours on Sunday, sending reserves down as well.

"We're pumping about 50 million gallons a day which is about one and a half times our average pumpage for the year on a daily basis."

Homeowner Lisa Hansen says of her property, "The pond is low. There's actually a beach area that was not there when we first were coming out here."

Hansen used to live in Houston. She moved last week to a new home and a newly seeded yard in Madison.

"I'm not too concerned right now. They have them on a timer," Hansen says of her sprinklers.

Madison Water Utility wants homeowners to avoid sprinkling during the hottest time of the day, when water is most likely to evaporate.

Landscaper Everett Harder says that does not apply to sprouting yards.

"You're gonna have to keep it moist, so it doesn't dry up," Harder says.

But he says new technology makes it easier to grow new grass without sprinkling as much.

"We found we use half as much water as in years past," he says.

He says the jelly substance "Hydro" absorbs water, then releases it as the lawn dries, giving young yards an edge they need now more than ever.

"I think if we keep seeing demand we're seeing right now, and if all of our stations stay in service, we'll be ok," Denig-Chakroff says.

Alliant says the problem only affected the pumping station. The city recommends people water before eight o'clock in the morning or after eight o'clock in the evening to conserve water.

The utility does not expect the restrictions to become mandatory. Reservoir levels could reach normal in a couple of days.

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