The Birmingham Times
The Birmingham Water Works (BWW) will complete the process to credit all customers negatively impacted by recent months’ billing issues by November 30, the system announced Monday. The credit applies to any customers who may have experienced any overcharging through the utility’s use of mass estimation this year.
The announcement comes 48 hours before Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson and several Civil Rights organizations scheduled a Wednesday town hall meeting to voice concerns about billing and overcharging by the Water Works.
The utility said Monday customers do not need to contact the BWW to receive the credit, which will appear on either their November or December billing statements.
Mass estimation of bills was a temporary need to cope with the system’s staffing shortages in meter reading and billing departments earlier this year. The BWW is now fully staffed in both areas, and nearly all BWW customers (99%) are now receiving timely bills.
“We apologize again for any inconvenience experienced by any customer,” said Michael Johnson, Birmingham Water Works General Manager. “We are glad to bring the crediting process to fruition, which resolves the challenges we faced earlier this year.
“Our customers are the heart of our mission, especially our low and moderate-income customers,” he added. “For instance, during the pandemic, we were one of the first utilities to stop disconnections, one of the last utilities to start collecting again, and we had zero rate increases in the year 2021. For customers with low or moderate incomes, we continue to extend payment plans for up to 12 months. This is our spirit of service. We ask that any customer – regardless of income – who still has a billing or service matter, please contact us via phone at 205-244-4000 or online at www.bwwb.org so we can address and correct any issues,” he said.
Johnson also noted that the BWW staff has issued a response to a recent appraisal of the utility’s billing system, clarifying and correcting many of the assertions made in it. “Our billing system is 100% accurate, and all of our customers can have the confidence that they are receiving precise and timely bills. Our billing system leadership team has more than 135 years of collective experience in water system billing, and that’s experience we can all trust,” he said.