Birmingham Water Works
The Birmingham Water Works is a public utility supplying drinking water to 750,000 customers in Birmingham, most of Jefferson County and parts of four other counties. The system, established in 1951, delivers 100 million gallons of water per day over 3,858 miles of main pipes. It has been recognized as one of the top five water systems in the United States and rates consistently high in water quality.
For most of its history, the Water Works was a department of the City of Birmingham. It began operating under an independent board in 2001. The board chairman is Jackie Robinson and the general manager is Mac Underwood.
On February 12, 2009 the board approved a $329 million expansion plan to cover capital projects over the next 12-15 years. The plan calls for a new pump station on the Black Warrior River, about three miles south of Bankhead Lock and Dam, and two pipelines, adding 60 million gallons per day to the system's capacity. The proposed expansion would accommodate projected demand through 2075.
In 2010 the Board hired Raftelis Financial Consultants to report on the feasibility of the system acquiring the Jefferson County Sewer System out of a possible bankruptcy. The report recommended against the purchase, concluding that rates would have to be increased too much to be worthwhile.
In 2011 the utility approved the first of several bids to replace aging water mains throughout the service area.
In 2015 the Alabama State Legislature changing the compensation of board members from $285 per meeting to $1,000 per month, requiring a public vote on reimbursed expenses, limiting tenure to two four-year terms, and establishing requirements for public hearings and votes for future rate increases. Beginning in 2017 the board expanded from five to nine members, with three of the four new seats be filled from areas outside the city of Birmingham which are served by the utility.
Black Warrior Basin
- Sipsey Fork
- Mulberry Fork
- Inland Lake / Blackburn Fork
- Village Creek (1873 - 1887)
- Five Mile Creek (1887 - 1938)
Locust Fork property
Until 2009 the Water Works owned 3,200 acres of undeveloped property bordering Locust Fork in anticipation of constructing a reservoir. The board determined that the project was not feasible and sold the land for $4.5 million to Jeffrey Palmer. Palmer made a $500,000 donation to the H2O Foundation and agreed to accept contract stipulations preventing clear-cutting, coal-mining, landfills and hazardous waste storage. He agreed to maintain a 50-foot buffer around all tributaries on the land and also indicated he would create a conservation easement on the land abutting the river.
- Ronald Mims, chairman
- Kevin McKie, first vice-chair
- Ann Florie, second vice-chair
- George Munchus, secretary/treasurer
- Sherry Lewis, assistant secretary/treasurer
- Mac Underwood, General Manager
- Sonny Jones, Assistant General Manager of Engineering and Maintenance
- Michael Vann, Director of Water Resources and External Affairs
- North Birmingham Water Works (1873-1938)
- Cahaba Pump Station (1890 - present)
- Inland Pump Station
- Western Filter Plant
- H. Y. Carson Filter Plant (1972- present)
- Putnam Station Filter Plant
- Shades Mountain Filter Plant
- Mulberry Intake Station
- Sipsey Intake Station
- Birmingham Water Works Tunnel
- "Water Works Board approves $90 million bond sale for capital projects" (April 5, 2006) Birmingham Business Journal
- Bryant, Joseph D. (February 13, 2008) "Birmingham, Alabama Water Works Board approves $239 million plan to extend capacity." The Birmingham News
- Spencer, Thomas (August 21, 2009) "Birmingham Water Works Board votes to sell its 3,200 acres on the Locust Fork River to Tuscaloosa businessman Jeffrey Todd Palmer in a $5 million deal." The Birmingham News
- Archibald, John (January 22, 2010) "Coup topples Water Works duo." The Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (October 21, 2010) "Birmingham Water Works study rules out plan to buy sewer." The Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (March 14, 2011) "Major pipe replacement project begun by Birmingham Water Works." The Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (May 14, 2015) "Birmingham Water Works changes take effect today following governor's signing of legislation." The Birmingham News
- Birmingham Water Works website