Birmingham Water Works delivers the highest quality water from source to tap. When Birmingham Water Works customers turn on the tap, they can count on their water being purified, monitored and tested to protect their health and safety. Birmingham Water Works provides service to more than 600,000 people throughout the City of Birmingham and surrounding areas. We are the largest drinking water provider in Alabama, producing more than 100 million gallons of water each day.
Your water’s journey begins in the Warrior and Cahaba rivers and ends with clean, great-tasting water that comes out of your faucet on demand. As part of our extensive testing program, each year BWWB collects thousands of samples from our water sources, water filter plants and at sites throughout the service area and conducts more than 100,000 water quality tests to confirm that we provide the highest quality water that meets all state and federal purity standards.
Every day, Birmingham Water Works conducts hundreds of tests in our EnviroLab. The BWWB lab is certified by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Our scientists and technicians analyze more than 100,000 water quality tests each year to ensure the quality and safety of our drinking water.
Our Annual Water Quality Report is designed to keep our customers informed about their water and show the results of all the testing we do. The report, which is also known as a Consumer Confidence Report, is prepared in adherence to the EPA’s rules. Birmingham Water Works drinking water meets or is better than all of EPA’s water quality standards.
How Water is Treated
It takes more than just turning on the tap. Water treatment is a very expensive and involved process. The Birmingham Water Works has four water treatment facilities – Carson, Putnam, Shades Mountain and Western Filter Plants. Combined, these filter plants deliver an average of 100 million-gallons of water a day to customers in five counties.
1. Intake - Water is taken from the source. Logs, fish and plants are screened out and water is drawn into the treatment plant.
2. Chemical Addition - Chemicals are added to kill germs and improve taste and odor.
3. Mixing - Water and chemicals are rapidly mixed.
4. Coagulation & Flocculation - The particles stick together and form larger particles called flocculants or “floc.”
5. Sedimentation - The water and floc particles flow into a sedimentation basin. The floc then settles to the bottom and is removed from the water.
6. Filtration - Water flows through filters. The filters are made of layers of sand and gravel.
7. Disinfection - A small amount of chlorine or other disinfecting chemical is added to kill any remaining germs and keeps the water safe as it travels to houses and businesses.
8. Storage - Water is placed in a closed tank or clearwell.
9. Distribution - Water is transported to houses and businesses. The Birmingham Water Works delivers on average 100 million gallons of water per day.BACK TO TOP
Good source water is the result of the Birmingham Water Works’ aggressive environmental protection policy. Our Watershed Protection Policy limits development in areas close to our water sources, which reduces pollutants. Watersheds are areas of land where all the water that drains off runs into a river, stream or lake. Keeping these watersheds as pristine as possible means that our source water is high quality. BWWB has focused on purchasing land to increase our watershed so that we can protect our source water and decrease the amount of treatment required. This gives our customers higher-quality drinking water at a more affordable price. The average cost to treat and deliver water to the distribution system from our 4 treatment plants is $450.28 per million gallons.
Birmingham Water Works gets water for its customers from several surface water sources, and our pump stations deliver this water for treatment to the four filter plants:
- Shades Mountain Filter Plant is served by the Cahaba River and the Lake Purdy Reservoir
- Western Filter Plant is served by the Sipsey and/or Mulberry Forks of the Warrior River
- Putnam Filter Plant is served by Inland Lake or Sipsey/Mulberry Forks of the Warrior River
- Carson Filter Plant is served by Inland Lake or the Sipsey Fork of the Warrior River
Main Replacements and Project Updates
We do our best to notify you in advance if there are plans for a construction project in your neighborhood. You can find more information about specific projects below.Birmingham Water Works’ system of pipes, pump stations, filter plants and reservoirs covers more than 759 square miles and has more than 4,000 miles of water mains (pipes). With so much to maintain you may see crews replacing pipe or building new facilities.
Current Relocation Projects Under Construction
Backflow / Cross Connection Control
Birmingham Water Works’ Backflow and Cross Connection Control program protects our water supply from pollutants and contaminants that could, under certain circumstances, be drawn into the public water supply from private properties.
Birmingham Water Works is required by law to establish and operate a backflow and cross-connection program. All commercial, industrial, domestic, irrigation and fire line services are required to have an approved backflow prevention assembly installed.
Requirements for multi- and single-family residences are assessed based on site hazards. All customers with an auxiliary water supply, such as a well or a pond, are also required to install and maintain backflow prevention assemblies. Some businesses such as hospitals, healthcare facilities, chemical plants, mortuaries, restaurants, car washes and sewage treatment plants are required to install high hazard backflow prevention assemblies and have them tested annually.
Backflow - is a reversal of the normal flow of water
Cross-Connection - a physical connection between drinkable water and a liquid or gas that could make the water unsafe to drink (wherever there is a cross connection, there is a potential threat to public health)
Backpressure - when the customer's pressure exceeds the supply pressure.
Back-Siphonage - when the supply line pressure falls below atmospheric pressure.
Your home can be a source of cross-contamination
There are many things on a customer's property that has the possibility for exposure to cross- contamination that can harm you and your family, and your neighbors too.
The garden hose is the most common form of cross-connection that can contaminate the water supply. Here are a few ways that a garden hose can contaminate the water:
- Connecting it directly to a garden sprayer to apply pesticide or fertilizer to the yard.
- Connecting it to a soap and brush attachment to wash your car.
- Letting the end of the hose sit submerged in a puddle or a pool of water, such as a swimming pool
You can prevent these things from happening if you attach a hose bibb vacuum breaker on the outside faucet that you attach your garden hose to.
If your home has an irrigation system, you must have a proper and suitable backflow prevention assembly installed correctly. If you do not have a backflow prevention assembly installed on your line there are certified testers and installers of backflow prevention assemblies that can help you. After having a backflow installed, the backflow must be tested on an annual basis to ensure that the backflow assembly is still operating properly.
Backflow Specification Manuals:
Lead and Copper Information
There is no lead in the drinking water Birmingham Water Works provides to your home or business, but lead can come from household plumbing fixtures, such as brass fixtures containing lead or lead solder. There is no safe level of lead exposure, and the health effects caused by lead can include irreversible damage to the brain and nervous system, particularly in young children and babies. There are simple steps you can take to reduce exposure to lead in your home:
- If water has been sitting unused for six hours or longer in the plumbing at your home, before drinking, cooking, or making baby formula with the water, run cold water from the faucet until the water becomes a constant temperature. Saving the water for other purposes, such as watering plants, is a good conservation measure.
- Use only water from the cold water tap for drinking, cooking and especially for making baby formula. Hot water may contain higher levels of lead.
- Install a water filter. If you choose to do so, follow these three important suggestions:
- Choose one designed specifically to filter lead.
- Make sure the filter is approved by the National Sanitation Foundation, which certifies and verifies that filters remove lead
- Maintain the filter as directed by the manufacturer.
Under the Safe Drinking Water Act Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) the EPA requires public drinking water systems to test tap water from homes within their distribution system that are likely to have high lead levels. These are homes with lead service lines or lead solder. The EPA rule requires that nine out of 10 of the sampled homes must have lead levels below the action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb). Since testing began in the early 1990s, BWWB has been well within the EPA’s compliance standards.