Birmingham Water Works

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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 April 5, 2006 the board of the Birmingham Water Works announced a sale of $90 million in revenue bonds to fund capital projects and meet financial obligations for "the next two to three years."

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.

Water sources

Black Warrior Basin

Cahaba Basin

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.





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