Sewer and Stormwater

​Does the PSC regulate sewer utilities?

Municipal sanitary and storm water utilities do not fall within the definition of “public utility" under Wis. Stat. § 196.01(5) and therefore do not require PSC approval when establishing rates and rules or constructing facilities. Sewer utility regulation is primarily a voluntary decision on the part of the municipality.  The PSC has authority to regulate investor-owned (IOU) sewer utilities; however, at present, no IOU sewer utilities operate in Wisconsin.

There are over 600 sewer utilities operating in Wisconsin. Of these utilities, the PSC currently regulates one that has elected to combine their water and sewer operations into a single public utility. The PSC regulates the rates and rules, practices and procedures, plant additions, and service quality, for this utility.

​Wisconsin Stat. § 66.0821(5)(a) describes the PSC's jurisdiction to investigate the complaints of any user(s) of an unregulated sanitary sewer utility.

Can a municipality form a storm water utility and bill for storm water charges?

Prior to 1997, most municipalities used general fund revenue to construct and operate storm water infrastructure. In the 1997-98 legislative session, Wisconsin Statute § 66.0821 was amended to explicitly allow a municipality to establish service charges to fund construction and operation of storm and surface water collection and treatment systems.

Does the PSC have jurisdiction over municipal storm water charges?

Wisconsin Stat. § 66.0821(5)(a) describes the PSC's jurisdiction to investigate the complaints of any user(s) of an unregulated storm water utility.

How should the municipality determine storm water charges?

The PSC does not prescribe a method for determining storm water charges. It is the responsibility of the municipality to develop storm water charges that are not unreasonable or unjustly discriminatory. The most commonly used method to determine storm water charges is square feet of impervious surface area.  It can be beneficial for storm water utilities to adopt a reasonable appeal and credit policy that adjusts rates based on customer actions that reduce runoff volume, peak flow and pollutant load and is based on numerically defined hydrologic criteria.

​Does th​e PSC have jurisdiction over damages resulting from sewer backups?

The PSC does not have jurisdiction over damages due to sewer backups.​