2021-2022 Water, Sewer, and Storm Water Rates

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Did water, sewer and storm water rates increase?

Water, sewer and storm water rates changed for all bills where the meter read date was on or after July
1, 2021. Water rates increased 7.0% from $4.95 to $5.30 for every 1,000 gallons used. Sewer rates
increased 4.4% from $8.21 to $8.57 for every 1,000 gallons of water used. Storm water rates increase
from $54.75/quarter/ESWU to $58.50/quarter/ESWU for water accounts in the Evergreen-Farmington
Sewage Disposal District and from $64.25/quarter/ESWU to $66.75/quarter/ESWU for water accounts in
the Southeast Oakland County Sewage Disposal District. The average homeowner using 90,000 gallons
per year and living on a property with an ESWU factor of 1 would see an annual increase in their water
and sewer bill of approximately $76.

Why did rates increase this year?

Water and sewer rates will frequently change from year to year for different reasons. The current year
rate increases are explained below.

Water Rate

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. 

Sewer Rate

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.

How are rates determined?

Every year, City staff develops budgets for the following fiscal year. These budgets are used to determine
projected water and sewage disposal costs. The costs are reduced by other revenue generated by the
respective systems (interest income, charges for services, etc.). The net cost is divided by the projected
number of units of water to be sold during the year to arrive at a rate per unit of water sold. Below is a
summary of the calculation for water and sewer rates for this year:

 

WATER RATE

 

 

 

SEWER RATE

 

Treated Water

$2,126,100

 

Sewage Disposal

          $4,277,200

Maintenance Costs

1,879,710

 

Maintenance Costs

             1,080,880

Depreciation

949,800

 

Depreciation

            1,121,610

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

Rate

$5.30

 

Rate

                    $8.57

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does anyone review the rates?

Yes, the City Manager reviews the department budgets which form the basis of the respective system
costs. The budgets along with the rates are presented to the City Commission at the annual budget
hearing conducted in May. The City Commission gives feedback to the City Manager on the budgets/rates.
Any changes to the budgets/rates are presented to the City Commission at a regular schedule meeting
(usually in May) where they are approved. 

What is the City doing to keep rates down?

The portion of the water and sewer rate that the City controls is approximately 50% and 40% respectively.
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)

Water System

 

 

 

 

    Cost of Water*

         $  2,126,100

          $  1,581,000

35%

3.5%

    City Maintenance**

             1,879,710

              1,219,560

54%

5.4%

    Depreciation

                949,800

                 582,920

63%

6.3%

 

 

 

 

 

Sewer System

 

 

 

 

    Sewage Disposal*

             4,277,200

              2,733,540

56%

5.6%

    City Maintenance**

             1,080,880

906,640

19%

1.9%

    Depreciation

             1,121,610

                 752,760

49%

4.9%

 

* 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.

Does Birmingham have the highest water and sewer rates?

Birmingham’s water and sewer rates are higher than some communities because of various factors: 1)
we are a combined sewer /storm water sewer system (which means we have to pay to dispose of the
storm water), 2) our infrastructure is older, 3) smaller population, and 4) we participate in the
maintenance of 3 CSO retention basins.

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.


Capture

What can I do to lower my bill?

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.

What is an Industrial Waste Control (IWC) charge?

The Industrial Waste Control charge is an additional fixed fee charged to commercial properties by the
GLWA for additional sewage treatment costs associated with commercial properties. The fixed fee is
based on the size of the water meter. These fees are collected by the City of Birmingham and remitted to
the GLWA. The GLWA has increased this fee by 2.6% for 2021-2022. 

Who can I call if I have additional questions?

If you have additional questions, please call the telephone numbers listed below or feel free to send an e-mail to water@bhamgov.org.

Contact List

City of Birmingham                                                                         Water Resources Commissioner

Water Department                                                                         Phone:  248-858-0958

Phone:  248-530-1830                                                                     email:  wrc@oakgov.com

Fax:  248-530-1070                                                                           website:  www.oakgov.com/drain

e-mail:  water@bhamgov.org

website:  www.bhamgov.org                     

 

Great Lakes Water Authority

Phone:  844-455-4592

email:  info@glwater.org

website:  www.glwater.org