As some state legislators push to overhaul the Birmingham Water Works Board (BWWB), the utility decided Wednesday to adopt a new self-governance policy and director pledge.

According to a press release from Water Works Public Relations Manager Rick Jackson, the BWWB's new director pledge establishes "fiduciary duties, roles, responsibilities, and expectations for [d]irectors" and requires them to "respect differing opinions, avoid conflicts of interest, support approved board actions, and adhere to the state's ethics laws."

The self-governance policy will require training for directors pertaining to ethics laws and procedures. If directors fail to comply with the policy, they will no longer receive an expense allowance. 

After a year of crisis at the Birmingham Water Works, two state legislators representing part of the Birmingham area presented a bill in March to wipe the Birmingham Water Works Board (BWWB) clean and change the way new members are appointed. 

This comes at a time when the Alabama Legislature is preparing to address concerns about the Water Works, which could result in a complete overhaul of the BWWB.

State Rep. Jim Carns (R-Vestavia Hills) and David Faulkner (R-Hoover) introduced House Bill 177 in March, which would terminate the terms of the nine current BWWB members and reinstitute a new board with refined qualifications.

The original legislation would have given the mayor of Birmingham the authority to appoint four members, and the Alabama governor would be responsible for appointing three. This would have reduced the nine-member board to seven members. 

Currently, two of the BWWB members are appointed by the mayor of Birmingham. The Birmingham City Council appoints four. One is appointed by the Jefferson County Mayors' Association, another by the Shelby County Commission and one by the Blount County Commission.

According to WBRC, the BWWB bill will still reduce the size of the BWWB to seven members. However, the Birmingham mayor would only get two appointments, and the Birmingham City Council would also get two. The appointees would be required to have an engineering or finance background.

The remaining three members would be appointed by the country commissions of Shelby and Blount Counties and the Jefferson County Mayors Association. 

BWWB members would have to undergo ethics training, and their pay would be set to $1,000 a month.

1819 News reached out to Carns for confirmation and to ask him to explain why the changes were made in the bill. We did not receive a response. 

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