Shelby County provides water to Birmingham during drought

Published 5:08 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2016

WILSONVILLE – Shelby County Water Services is providing an average of 3 million gallons of water per day to Birmingham Water Works during the ongoing drought.

Michael Cain, Shelby County Water Services manager, said the county has agreements in place with many neighboring systems to provide water if possible in emergency situations.

Shelby County was able to provide the volume it did, which represents about a quarter of the SCWS system capacity, because of the timing of the drought, Cain said.

“It hit us at the right time of the year,” he said. “A lot of our demand went down because it’s getting into the cooler time of the year.”

The agreements work both ways. If Shelby County Water Services found itself in need, Birmingham or one of the other neighboring systems would provide help if possible.

The water provided by SCWS is pulled from the Coosa River and treated at one of two treatment plants: the jointly owned Talladega/Shelby Water Treatment Plant near Childersburg and the Shelby County South Water Treatment Plant near Wilsonville, which is owned and operated by the county and began production of drinking water in 2008.

Cain said if not for the addition of the plant near Wilsonville, Shelby County probably would not have been in a position to help Birmingham.

Many customers served by Birmingham Water Works live in Shelby County, or close by.

Water is shared between the entities through connections that are located off Alabama 119, in the Eagle Point area and a new connection off Shelby County 41.

Birmingham Water Works would likely use the water from SCWS in the areas closest to the connections, so recipients probably include those in Highland Lakes and along the U.S. 280 corridor.

Shelby County sharing water with Birmingham began in mid-October, Cain said.

Birmingham or any other service that receives water from SCWS compensates Shelby County as specified in the contracts.

Shelby County Water Services serves both retail and wholesale customers. The retail customers are primarily located in Westover, Chelsea and the subdivisions of Eagle Point, Greystone, Forrest Park, Forrest Lakes, Mt Laurel, Regent Park, Villas Belvedere and Highland Village.

SCWS has about 11,800 customers, including residential and non-residential in the form of businesses mostly along the U.S. 280 corridor.

Primary wholesale customers are Alabaster, Pelham and Sterrett-Vandiver. These water systems utilize significant amounts of water from Shelby County Water Services and sell the water to their customers.