The citizens of Birmingham established the current Water Board in 1951, but the Birmingham Water Works system dates back to 1873, just two years after the founding of Birmingham.
The development of a reliable water source brought industries to the area, and the Magic City was born. From the beginning, the managers of the system have worked diligently to provide customers with the highest quality water that science and technology will allow.
In 1951, Birmingham decided to purchase the water system from a private operator and establish an independent Water Board. The benefit of an independent water system rather than one run by City Hall is that water revenues can be used for water system maintenance and upgrades rather than other unforeseen projects.
As the city began to grow so did the need to tap into more water sources and increase system efficiency. Birmingham Water Works officials saw major expansions every decade from 1950 to the present. The system now boasts four water sources and approximately 3,903 miles of transmission lines. Efficiency remains key as more than 500 employees operate this expansive system.
In the 1960s, people in outlying communities, many of whom had polluted wells, requested service from the Birmingham Water Works. Grant assistance from the Office of Health and Urban Development allowed the BWW to provide service to these areas in North Jefferson County.
In 1979, the City of Birmingham authorized the Birmingham Water Works to add sodium fluoride to the water, offering customers passive protection against tooth decay.
In the 1980s, the system spent millions expanding Western Filter Plant, nearly doubling its processing capacity. The Birmingham Water Works also received recognition as one of the top five water systems in the U.S.
The 1990s saw the addition of the Industrial Water Board and extensive upgrades to Shades Mountain Filter Plant. To remain at the forefront of water treatment technology, the BWW invested more resources into water inspections and delivery enhancements with the addition of the EnviroLab and the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system.
The Birmingham Water Works continues to plan for our region’s growth. With shifts in population across the region and growth in the suburban areas, the BWW is seeking out new sources and upgrading the system to handle these changes.
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