The Birmingham Water Works Board (BWWB) elected former Democratic candidate for the Alabama House of Representatives Tereshia Huffman as its new chairwoman on Wednesday, following a hectic 2022 for the utility.

Huffman ran for the Alabama House in 2022, losing to Ontario Tillman in the runoff election for the Democratic nomination for District 56. Tillman went on to defeat Libertarian candidate Carson Lester in the general election. 

After growing up in Birmingham and attending the University of Alabama, Huffman became a community organizer for former state Rep. Earl Hilliard, which, according to her campaign website, "sparked a career focused on improving the quality of life for citizens by managing social and racial justice initiatives."

Eventually, she moved to Georgia to become a human resource professional for former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and later work for the DeKalb County government, where she managed water infrastructure. 

Huffman has also worked for Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin's 2021 campaign, the nonprofit Birmingham Promise, and the Keecha Harris and Associates consulting firm, where she worked "on racial and ethnic quality in environmental and climate issues," according to the Hoover Sun.

The Birmingham City Council appointed Huffman to the BWWB in 2020. Recently, she served as the BWWB's second vice chairwoman.

During her campaign to become a state representative, Huffman advocated for expanding Medicaid, increasing funding for public schools and mandating "inclusivity and diversity" in community development projects.

Former BWWB chair Chris Rice resigned in September following a plethora of billing issues that caused thousands of customers not to receive bills for months at a time. Later, they received much larger or multiple bills all at once.

The bills were also not based on accurate meter readings but were estimations using previous months' usage. Birmingham Water Works blamed the issues on a lack of meter readers and insufficient staffing, but former employees allegedly told Birmingham TV's WBRC that Water Works management was aware of the potential problems for months.

The employees chose to remain anonymous, but one claimed the BWWB fired her after accusing her of falsifying documents, which she denied. Instead, she said she was intentionally given unclear instructions from the managers whose orders she was following.

Later in September, Rice attempted to rescind his resignation, but a city attorney argued that the resignation was already valid. 

According to, Huffman was one of two BWWB members not to vote to approve Rice's resignation, as she did not attend the vote.

At the end of November, Birmingham Water Works voted to approve two new budgets for fiscal year 2023, which amount to a combined total of $197,612,101. The new budgets also call for a 3.9% rate hike, which is less than half of the rate increase that the board proposed in September and identical to the rate hike that came with last year's budget.

On Monday, the Water Works filed a temporary restraining order and an injunction to stop a petition for a proposed ordinance for the city to take over the utility. A group of Birmingham citizens created the proposed ordinance, but Water Works officials argued that the ordinance was illegal.

"As Chairwoman, I want us to improve our image in the public and to strengthen our relationships with our customers and with our communities," Huffman said. "I also want to start looking at new technologies such as automatic meter reading but with a cautious approach to make sure we don't ever have a repeat of billing issues in the future. I look forward to working closely with my fellow Directors on these issues as well as many others."

The BWWB also appointed several other board officers on Wednesday, including 1st Vice-Chairman William "Butch" Burbage, second vice chairman Ronald A. Mims, secretary-treasurer Raymond Ward and assistant secretary-treasurer Carl Dalton NeSmith.

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