B’ham Water Works to consider raising rates

B'ham Water Works billing dispute

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - We talked with a Birmingham Water Works customer who has seen her share of issues from being charged incorrect usage to not being charged for three months.

Last month, she saw her bill go up by over $70.

“It went from about $45 to $120,” she said.

That’s when she went to Facebook.

“I was just asking if anybody else had the same trouble and it looked like about 100 other people at least commented that they did,” she said.

Last year, she says Water Works admitted that they did not check her meter for three months. She was then billed for all three in one billing cycle

“Every month I had a 0 percentage usage for, I think it was June, July, August," she said. "So then I got one bill the next month that it caught up and it was almost 20 CCFs.

And because of their tier system, she was charged over $4 for each CCF.

“So, because I had used 20 CCFs in one month, even though they had shown me it was over three months ultimately, I was charged $4.17 per CCF.”

She was credited back part of that, but she says problems like these keep happening. She says anyone with a day job doesn’t have time to call every time there’s a problem.

“I’d have to spend 30 minutes speaking with someone on the phone. And then that person would have to have a supervisor call me back, which would take days, if they even did that. And then I would follow up again,” she said.

And now, Birmingham Water Works is considering raising rates.

“Nationwide, we’re seeing a problem with aging infrastructure with the water industry. Birmingham is no different. We have a lot of galvanized steel pipe in the ground that has to come up that cost money as well," says Water Works Spokesperson Rick Jackson.

For those who are having problems like this customer, there will be a public hearing at Birmingham Water Works ahead of their board meeting to approve a 3.9 percent increase. That would be another $1.60 per household per month. After a 2.9 percent increase at the beginning of this year, customers say it’s too much.

“There’s nobody controlling Birmingham Water Works. They shouldn’t be hiking up prices constantly to fix their issues,” the customer said.

Anyone with questions about their bill should come to the public hearing Thursday night starting at 5:30 at 3600 1st Avenue North.

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