2021-2022 Water, Sewer, and Storm Water Rates Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Birmingham purchases its water from the Southeastern Oakland County Water Authority (SOCWA) which in turn purchases the water from the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA). SOCWA maintains the water mains that connect the 11 communities that make up SOCWA to GLWA’s water mains. The cost of treated water from SOCWA increased 1.3% from last year.
City maintenance costs increased 3.3% as a result of normal personnel and contractual increases and an increase in depreciation costs associated with infrastructure improvements.
New for this fiscal year, $.24 of the rate increase is for infrastructure improvements.
A portion of the increase in the sewer rate is the result of an increase in sewage disposal costs from GLWA and the Oakland County Resources Commissioner (OCWRC) of 4%. Second, net city maintenance costs increased 8.5% mainly as a result of an increase in the number of sewer lines that are cleaned and inspected.
Storm Water Rates
Storm water rates for the Evergreen-Farmington Sewage Disposal District increased 6.8% and the Southeast Oakland County Sewage Disposal District increased 3.9% as a result of an increase in storm water disposal costs from GLWA and OCWRC.
|WATER RATE||SEWER RATE|
|Treated Water||$2,126,100||Sewage Disposal||$4,277,200|
|Maintenance Costs||1,879,710||Maintenance Costs||1,080,880|
|Total Costs||$4,955,610||Total Costs||$6,479,690|
|Additional Capital Funding||200,000||Additional Capital Funding||700,000|
|Less: Other Revenue||(806,000)||Less: Other Revenue||(140,000)|
|Net Costs||$4,349,610||Net Costs||$7,039,690|
|Est. Units Sold (water)||821,400||Est. Units Sold (water)||821,400|
Unfortunately, there is not much we can do about costs outside of the City’s control (GLWA charges and OCWRC charges). We do communicate our concerns over rate increases with the various responsible agencies.
The City is constantly reviewing the way we maintain our systems and look for efficiency gains whenever possible. We have implemented an automated meter reading system which nearly eliminates the need for human meter reading externally or internally. Another way the City is reducing costs is by switching newly hired employees to a defined contribution retirement and retiree health savings plan. These new retirement benefits will keep costs lower and more predictable from year-to-year.
To help put in perspective what has happened to water and sewer rates over the past 10 years, the following chart will demonstrate where the costs have increased:
|2021-2022||2011-2012||% Increase (Decrease)||Annual % Increase (Decrease)|
|Cost of Water*||$ 2,126,100||$ 1,581,000||35%||3.5%|
* Represents cost outside of the City’s control
** City Maintenance net of other revenue
As the chart above shows, the main increases in costs for the water and sewer system have come from rate setting agencies outside of the City’s control and depreciation. The depreciation charge represents the cost recovery of assets placed into service. Water and sewer lines are depreciated over a 40 year life expectancy.
Even with those factors, Birmingham’s rates are not out of line with other surrounding communities as shown for below. The following chart illustrates an average quarterly bill for a customer using 30,000 gallons.
Residents can lower their bill by checking for leaking toilets and sinks, adjusting lawn sprinkling times and days, and purchasing water conserving shower heads and toilets. In addition, water customers can monitor their own water usage by registering their water account with Aquahawk. To sign-up for this service please go to https://birmmi.aquahawk.us.
City of Birmingham
Water Resources Commissioner
website: Oakland County Drains
Great Lakes Water Authority