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Madison water customers could see rate increase, conservation incentives

Madison Water Utility is asking the Public Service Commission for a rate increase and changes to its rate structure to incentivize users to conserve water.

The utility wants to increase revenue by 30 percent by increasing rates, on an annualized basis, 7.5 percent per year for each of the four years since the last rate increase. The utility has not decided how the increase will be distributed among residential, multi-family, commercial, industrial and public authority customers.

General manager Tom Heikkinen said the increase is needed to replace aging water mains, improve water quality and make a payment in lieu of taxes to the city.

This is the first rate increase requested in four years, according to the utility.

If approved, Madison Water Utility will be the largest water utility in Wisconsin to offer a conservation rate for residential customers.

If approved, the new rates would go into effect in the spring of 2015 at the earliest.

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Madison debuts online water tracking tool

A new online tool is helping Madison residents keep better track of their water usage.

Madison is the first city in the state to launch an online tool that allows residents to check their monthly, daily and even hourly water use. The tool lets you compare month-to-month usage and set up email notifications to warn you of higher-than-normal usage, among other services.

"What we're talking about for us is really the ultimate conservation tool when it comes to water conservation," says Amy Barrilleaux, spokesperson for the Madison Water Utility.

Prior to the online option, residents could only track their usage by checking their monthly water bill or constantly comparing the water meter before and after use.

"This is just night and day from having to go into the basement and look at your meter to see how much water you're using every day," Barrilleaux said.

The goal is to help conserve water and dollars for Madison's residents.

Suspected drunken driver crashes into creek, flees

A Madison man was eventually arrested Saturday night after police found his vehicle partially submerged in a creek on the near east side, officials said.

Madison police officers were sent to reports of a vehicle crash that ended with the vehicle going off the roadway and into Starkweather Creek around 10 p.m., according to a release.

When officers arrived they found the vehicle partially submerged in water but no driver, police said.

The vehicle was registered to an address on Madison?s southeast side, and officers eventually made contact with Juan A. Sabino-Severiano, 18, in the area of Vernon Avenue, according to the release.

Sabino-Severiano resisted officers? attempts to handcuff him and take him into custody, but he was eventually arrested on tentative charges of resisting an officer and first-offense operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, police said.

2014 Halloween event at zoo features costume contest

2014 Halloween event at zoo features costume contest

A free costume contest is just one event at a Halloween celebration at Henry Vilas Zoo next weekend.

Halloween at the Zoo is a free event to the public with a suggested donation of $2, and features free trick-or-treating and an activity tent, according to a release.

There will be five categories for the costume contest and the top three contestants will win prizes. The contest will be from 11 a.m. to noon in the center of the zoo. To enter the costume contest, participants will need to go to the costume contest stage across from the seals and fill out an entry form.

Organizers said the contest will end promptly at noon, but they will accept as many entries as they can. Participants will be judged on creativity, originality and authenticity.

The winners will be announced at 12:30 p.m. at the costume contest stage.

Costume contest prizes:

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Madison fire officials lay out Ebola response plan

Officials with the Madison Fire Department said Thursday they are working to ensure they have a safe and effective Ebola virus response plan in place.

Madison Fire Chief Steve Davis said in a blog post Thursday the department is actively working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dane County Emergency Management, local hospitals and the 911 Center.

?We recognize the significance of our role in safely transporting possibly infected patients to local hospitals while protecting our community from the spread of the Ebola virus,? Davis said in the release.

The Ebola response process starts with the 911 Center, according to the post. If a 911 caller complains of any symptoms similar to those of an Ebola virus infection, the 911 dispatcher will ask follow-up questions regarding travel locations and contact with any persons who have traveled. The questions are based on the most current CDC recommendations for location and time of travel.

Most area districts get increase in aid; Middleton gets 7th largest cut

Most area school districts will receive a small increase in general state aid, but the Middleton-Cross Plains School District will get the seventh biggest cut in the state, according to a release.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released the Oct. 15 certified amount each school district will receive from the $4.476 billion available under current law for general state aid.

General state aid for school districts increased by $94.4 million from last year, but the actual amount of aid that the state?s 424 public school districts will receive is $85.5 million more than last school year, according to the release. That is due to statutory reductions to general state aid for private voucher schools in Milwaukee and independent charter schools supported by state tax dollars.

$400K needed to keep Rhythm & Booms going

The organizers of Rhythm & Booms say they need $400,000 in donations and sponsorships by Dec. 1 to put on the fireworks show next year.

A statement released Tuesday states that Madison Festivals Inc. invested $345,000 from its reserves to keep the festival going the last two years, but can?t continue to keep it going without more money.

"Financially we did not get the type of funding from either corporations or the public that we hoped to get this year,? Madison Festivals President Rita Kelliher said.

Kelliher pointed to two main reasons for the funding shortage. When the event was moved from Warner Park to the downtown area in 2014, organizers had to pay significantly more for the barges, crane and tugboat necessary to shoot fireworks from Lake Monona. Also new in 2014 was the lack of funding from the city of Madison.