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8:22 PM / Wednesday July 28, 2021

30 Apr 2020

Philadelphia Water Department extends COVID-19 shutoff freeze through June 1

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April 30, 2020 Category: Local Posted by:

In line with other regional utilities, PWD and the Water Revenue Bureau (WRB) have agreed to postpone all water shutoffs for residential and commercial customers who are unable to pay their bills through June 1, 2020.

This is a 16-day extension of the original postponement period, which prevented delinquent accounts from being shut off through May 15.

“As our community follows stay-at-home orders, we understand there are broad consequences for many customers,” Commissioner Randy Hayman said. “To ensure that those struggling financially will not lose water needed for drinking, washing hands, bathing and cooking, we are putting a temporary freeze on water shutoffs, effective through June 1, 2020.” 

“It is still important to pay your bill if you can, as all of our operations are funded by revenue from water bills,” he added. “While we are not shutting people off, customers will still receive a bill and that balance will continue to accumulate as water services are used.”

Customers who cannot pay their bill should apply for help using the application at: www.phila.gov/waterbillhelp .

The City’s Tiered Assistance Program (TAP) provides discounted water bills based on income. Customers can also apply for a Special Hardship discount. Special Hardship qualification is decided on a case-by-case basis and may help customers who cannot pay a water bill due to loss of employment, hospitalization, and other situations.

“We have been working for years to help customers who have a tough time making ends meet, and we encourage those now facing financial issues to apply for help right away,” Hayman said.

Customers should be aware of longer processing times for customer assistance applications due to limited resources for Water Revenue Bureau staff working remotely.

“These steps are necessary to provide a safe workplace for employees, and we ask for patience from our customers during this health crisis,”  Deputy Revenue Commissioner Michelle L. Bethel-Miller said.

Additionally, Philadelphia Water Department Customer Field Services crews have been working to restore water service to all delinquent residential and commercial customers.

Since March 16, nearly 15,000 customers previously shutoff for delinquent accounts have had water services restored. For roughly 5,000 additional accounts, crews attempted to restore water services, but could not because of unsafe leaks, blocked access to curb-side valves, or other issues. Where possible, follow up visits for restoration have been scheduled.

Customers who have been shut off for not repairing defects in their private plumbing will still need to make the necessary repairs to have their water restored.

Fees waived 

As a temporary measure, all penalties and late fees for water bills are suspended. This measure is in effect until further notice for Philadelphia’s residential and commercial water customers.

The City of Philadelphia will continue to review this decision with guidance from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

Customers without water

If customers do not have water during the COVID-19 response, it is because of an emergency such as a water main break or plumbing issue within their home or building.

Water Department crews or contractors may have to stop flow to water mains to make emergency repairs. In the event of a water main break, customers may lose water without warning. Customers will be provided with time to prepare for an emergency shutoff when possible.

Call Center wait times

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In order to ensure a safe workplace for call center staff, we have reduced the number of employees in the office and ask for patience when calling (215) 685-6300, currently open for emergencies. If customers can’t get through, they are encouraged to contact the @PhillyH2O or @PhilaRevenue social media accounts, or email: [email protected].

For billing issues, customers can email: [email protected].

Updates will be provided as necessary on the PWD COVID-19 website at: www.phila.gov/covid-19.

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