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Water & Sewer

PSC Construction Authorization Process

Basic process
Wisconsin Admin Code ch. PSC 184 allows the Public Service Commission (PSC) up to 90 days (from the issuance of a Notice of Investigation, NOI) to approve or deny an application for construction authorization. 

Related Statute and Code
Wis. Stat. 196.49(3)(b) lists the conditions that the PSC evaluates when reviewing a construction project.  Wis. Admin. Code ch. PSC 184 lists the types of projects that require PSC approval as well as the items required in the application.

Average review time

  • From submittal of application to approval: 90-120 days
  • From issuance of NOI to approval: 30-40 days

How to Apply

  • Fill out the “General Application Checklist” and the appropriate “Supplemental Checklist” available in the following table.
  • Upload the completed application and related documents (pdf format) to the PSC Electronic Regulatory Filing (ERF) System using the Utility’s PSC identification number at:


PSC General Application Checklist
General Application Checklist
PSC Supplemental Checklist by Project Type
Establish New Utility
Utility Expansion, Acquisition and Interconnection
Construction of Water Supply Facilities (either new or replacement: wells, surface water intakes, storage facilities, and pumping stations)
Construction of Water Treatment Facilities
Construction of Utility Buildings
Non-routine Meter Replacement
Large Mains (equal or greater than 8-inches in diameter and 3 miles in length)


When is PSC approval required?

  • Establishment of a new utility
  • Expansion including: constructing facilities or initiating service in a municipality not currently served by the utility or in the service area of another utility.
  • Acquisition of another utility including: acquiring or placing in operation existing facilities obtained from another person or utility.
  • Interconnecting with another utility including combining or consolidating with another utility.
  • Construction of facilities costing more than $299,000 or 25% of the utility’s operating revenues in the prior year, whichever is less (not including exempt projects) per Docket 5-GF-154.
  • Water main 8-inches or greater in diameter and 3 miles or more in length.
  • Pump replacement if new pump increases pump capacity or includes the installation of variable frequency drives (VFD) for the first time.
  • Meter replacement that includes an upgrade in technology to AMR or AMI, and/or accelerated replacement schedule.
  • New buildings, building additions, and substantial alteration of building floor plans to accommodate chemical containment.
  • Re-construction or updating electrical systems to eliminate electric hazards or to comply with code.

What types of projects are exempt from PSC approval?

  • Routine maintenance and repair to utility facilities (projects that significantly increase the capacity of a facility or significantly extend the life of an asset are considered new construction and require approval).
  • Water main installation or repair (not included above).
  • Service laterals, hydrants or valves.
  • Routine meter replacement.
  • Replace or repair existing pumps, motors, or associated equipment.
  • Replace or repair filtration media.
  • Vehicles and other movable equipment.
  • Water tower painting.

Coordination of DNR and PSC Review

  • The DNR generally reviews projects from a technical perspective.  The PSC reviews projects from a financial perspective.  Is the project truly needed at this time?  Will the project jeopardize the long term financial health of the water utility?  Are large customers going to pay their fair share of the project costs?  The PSC’s review may include: an alternatives analysis, the adoption of the most cost-effective solution with lowest risk of future stranded assets, an estimate of rate impact, public notice of the rate impacts, and the use of accounting procedures consistent with PSC rate cases and annual reports.

  •  Pre-application consultation is available for utilities to meet with DNR and PSC staff during the early planning phases of a project.  This is an opportunity for the utility to host a web conference that includes an overview of the project.  Click the following link for a copy of the Pre-Application Consultation Checklist. Pre-application conferences are particularly useful when constructing new water sources, planning the establishment of a new utility, the expansion a utility’s service area, the acquisition of another utility, the interconnection with another utility, or the construction of water mains 8-inches or greater in diameter and 3 miles or more in length.

  • The following timeline illustrates how the pre-application consultation fits into the DNR and PSC review process.


Estimated Rate Impact

  • The following equation may be used to estimate the percent increase in water rates due to the construction of the proposed project:

Estimated % increase in rates =  (UP)(0.13) + (CP)(0.03)  
due to construction project           Annual Sales of Water

UP = Utility financed project costs in dollars (loans or funds)
CP = Contributed financed project costs in dollars (grants and principal forgiveness)

Annual Sales of Water = the utility’s annual “total sales of water” in dollars from page W-1 of the utility’s most current annual report


Public Meeting

  • Proposed construction that results in an estimated water rate increase of 50% or greater may require a public meeting.  Contact PSC staff for the requirements of this meeting.

PSC staff review time will be billed as a direct assessment to the utility per Wis. Stat. 196.85.

PSC contacts