Due to ongoing economic hardship created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philadelphia Water Department and Water Revenue Bureau will not shut off customers unable to pay water bills until April 1, 2021.
This latest extension overlaps with a long-established December 1 – March 31 moratorium on shutoffs implemented annually to protect vulnerable utility customers during cold-weather months. Rather than begin shutoffs in spring 2020 as the pandemic forced a statewide lockdown, the City kept the moratorium in place through the summer and fall as a public health measure.
Of the department’s more than 480,000 accounts, approximately 15,000 previously shut-off customers had water restored at the start of the pandemic. Since then, no delinquent customers were shut off.
“We’re ensuring people continue to have access to clean water because it is essential to public health. It is critical that customers who can’t pay their bill use this extended period of shut-off protection to get in touch with us,” Philadelphia Water Department Commissioner Randy E. Hayman said. “We have staff and programs that can help you avoid a big debt once we get through this crisis and shut-offs resume. No one should wait until the last minute.”
The Water Revenue Bureau is currently waiving penalties and fees on delinquent accounts until further notice. However, the principal balance will continue to grow with each missed payment. All account holders are still required to pay their bills and should do so if possible. Water bills fund vital infrastructure investments in Philadelphia.
Help for customers
Anyone unable to pay should apply for help immediately at: www.phila.gov/waterbillhelp or by calling (215) 685-6300.
Options for help include:
Assistance: The Tiered Assistance Program (https://www.phila.gov/services/water-gas-utilities/pay-or-dispute-a-water-bill/water-bill-customer-assistance/) allows qualifying customers to get discounted water rates and have past-due bills removed from the collections process. Any customer experiencing special hardship should apply.
Unexpected medical bills, unemployment, or the loss of a family member may be considered special hardship. All applications are decided case-by-case.
Payment Agreements: Customers who do not qualify for assistance should set up a payment agreement by speaking with representatives at (215) 685-6300 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Due to the number of customers in need, assistance is more flexible than ever. Some customers may have a lower down payment and more time to pay.