BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Some neighbors in Jefferson County are outraged after getting water and sewer bills totaling thousands of dollars. But a possible agreement between the Birmingham Water Works Board and the Jefferson County Commission could address this issue.
Some BWWB customers said “high water consumption” has led to their water and sewage bills skyrocketing.
“I’m very outraged,” said Keonna Farmer, who has a water and sewage bill for $4,428.78. “It’s been a very long process. it’s been very frustrating.”
Farmer said she had a rude awakening one Saturday morning to a nearly $4,500 bill. When she called BWWB about it, she was told with receipts they could adjust the water portion of her bill but that the sewer portion was separate.
“The sewer part I can try to call them,” Farmer said. “Right now, the sewage part is the most. It’s like $3,000-something.”
Millenah Steen is facing similar problems. She was billed for around $7,000 at the end of 2022 and has been able to have her bill lowered to just under $3,000.
“I still wouldn’t be able to pay that,” Steen said about her $2,704.99 water and sewage bill. “That wasn’t my fault. I did everything they wanted me to do.”
“Birmingham Water Works is committed to accurate billing and customer satisfaction,” BWWB wrote in a statement. “We are aware of the billing concerns previously raised by some customers and are actively investigating any issue that comes to our attention.
“If a customer is experiencing billing issues, we encourage them to contact our customer service team to determine a solution for their specific needs. In addition, many resources are available for customers, such as utility assistance and payment arrangements.
“To learn more about those resources or to report a customer care issue, call or email our customer care team: email@example.com or (205) 244-4000. Additionally, customers can submit issues online at www.bwwb.org/reportaproblem. We are working diligently to address any billing concerns and to improve our systems. We appreciate our customers’ patience and the media’s assistance sharing updates during this time. Birmingham Water Works remains dedicated to providing reliable service and transparent billing practices.”
Jefferson County Commissioner Lashunda Scales said the county is working with BWWB to find a solution to the problems.
“The main thing I think for any utility at this point, you’re trying to make sure that you’re making it as cost effective as possible for the people that you serve,” Scale said.
BWWB said it is looking at creating one entity from which to bill both water and sewer, as it’s considering using automated meters to read both. It said that would help with billing accuracy and be much less expensive for rate payers.
“We’re going to be doing a host of town hall meetings, different community engagement pieces, so that everyone knows exactly what we’re trying to do,” Scales said.
BWWB said next week it will have a meeting with the Jefferson County Commission to solidify a long-term solution.
Senator Linda Coleman-Madison said should the agreement between BWWB and the Jefferson County Commision not be signed. Senate Bill 179 is proposed in the legislature. She said it is a backup plan also enacting combined water and sewage bills should there be a stalemate. You can read the proposed bill in full here.