Water FAQ

Where does Sun Prairie’s water come from?

Sun Prairie drinking water comes from a deep sandstone aquifer, an underground rock formation where water collects in small spaces among the rocks. Groundwater originates as rain or snow, soaks into the ground, and is naturally filtered through layers of soil and rock before replenishing the aquifer.

Why is some drinking water stored in large tanks high above the ground?

This type of water storage ensures that water pressure and water volume are stabilized. Sun Prairie Utilities also has ground level reservoirs that ensure a sufficient water supply to fight fires, even if the electricity that normally pumps water is turned off.

Sun Prairie has an ample and reliable supply of water, so why should I conserve?

If the utility has to meet rising customer demand every year to accommodate population growth, it must continually increase its pumping and delivery capacity, and it could eventually need to find additional sources of water. Each increase in capacity and supply means increased costs to develop and operate; these, in turn, eventually lead to an increase in customer rates. Therefore, it is less expensive for everyone to invest in water conservation than in increased supply.

Additional benefits of water conservation include improved water quality, a reduced burden on surface water quality since less wastewater is generated, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions due to reduced energy spent on water pumping. Plus, the customer sees a smaller water bill.

What is Sun Prairie's 'water hardness' and how does it affect me?

Sun Prairie's tap water is considered to be 'very hard', because of the minerals such as calcium and magnesium in the rock formations from which we draw water. This water contains 22 grains of hardness per gallon.

Why do we use chlorine and fluoride in our water?

The high quality deep aquifer supplying our drinking water requires little treatment. However, chlorine is used to kill bacteria and viruses that could be found in the water. It's considered one of the most important tools for disinfecting drinking water. It's actually been in use for more than 100 years and is responsible for ending disease epidemics that were widespread prior to its use. 

Fluoride has been added to treated water to reduce the risk of dental cavities. The Public Health Madison Dane County advises about setting the fluoride target level for treated water to maximize dental health benefits and minimize concerns about over exposure.  You can read their policy statement on fluoridation of public drinking water here. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recognized water fluoridation as one of ten great public health achievements of the 20st century.

How do you check for a 'silent leak'?

A silent leak is usually a toilet where the flapper inside of the tank does not seal properly. This poor seal allows the water in the tank to seep from the tank into the bowl continuously and can add up to a significant amount of water. To check for a leaky toilet, add a drop or two of food coloring into the tank of the toilet. Do not flush the toilet for 20-30 minutes. If the coloring shows in the toilet bowl after 20-30 minutes, that is an indication of a leak.

What is the best choice of drinking water: bottled or tap water?

The answer is clear:  tap water! That's because our water is of excellent quality, strictly monitored, and affordable.

When we look at issues such as quality, monitoring and affordability, we see that bottled water doesn't always make the grade. For instance, some brands may be of excellent quality, but others can have inferior quality or they may be simply taken from municipal water supplies. And all bottled waters are expensive. For the price of one small bottle of water, you would be able to buy about 750 gallons of Sun Prairie tap water. There is also less environmental impact with tap water, having no plastic waste to dispose of.

Another important fact:  there are fewer government regulations to guide the bottled water industry. Monitoring requirements aren't as stringent as are those for tap water. For quality, consistency and affordability, tap water wins every time.

Where is the water meter located?

Image of pipe ownership in the City of Sun Prairie.

Water meters are typically located in a basement, along the wall nearest the street, usually by the water heater or laundry. In some instances, water meters are located in a mechanical room or closet. There are city ordinances requiring clear access to our meters. Please keep this in mind when planning any type of remodeling or finishing of basement areas. 

Why does Sun Prairie Utilities need to change or test the water meter in our home?

It is a requirement of the State of Wisconsin to periodically test all meters in our water system to ensure metering and billing accuracy. We are presently on a 20-year cycle with residential meters and will need to change and test over 1000 meters each year. When your property comes due for a test, we will contact you to schedule a specific 20-30 minute time when we can meet you to gain access to our meter. At this time, our water crew will remove and replace the water meter in your basement, check and calibrate the outside reader for the new meter, and visually check the home for proper backflow protection. The removed meter will be tested for accuracy back at the Utility, and either placed back into our stock to be used again or scrapped for recycling.

What would cause matter or particulates in our water?

Matter or particulates suspended in a glass of water can be the result of a couple of items. If you are experiencing this in only one faucet in your home, it is likely a dirty faucet aerator. Try removing the aerator and see if this clears the matter. If so, replace the aerator with a new one. If not, call our office at (608) 837-5500.

If you are experiencing matter throughout all of your house faucets, it is likely due to water main work, such as repair or replacement, or hydrant flushing. To clear this matter, turn on all faucets full open and run them for 5-10 minutes to clear the lines of matter that was stirred up from the water main work. If this does not clear the matter from your water, call our office at (608) 837-5500.