March 09, 2021
Philly residents who are experiencing financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will not have to worry about losing their water services until next spring.
The shutoff moratorium on services for residential customers has been extended until April 2022, the Philadelphia Water Department said Monday.
The extension will overlap with the department's annual winter shutoff freeze that protects vulnerable customers from losing service between Dec. 1 through March 31.
Residential customers who are signed up for either the Tiered Assistance Program or Senior Citizen Discount Program will not be the recipients of enforcement measures or penalized for overdue bills until April 2022, the Philadelphia Water Department said.
However, customers who are not enrolled in these financial assistance programs will begin to receive penalties for late bills starting May 1, according to the Philadelphia Water Department. Other enforcement measures, such as referrals to collection agencies, will take effect Aug. 2.
Some non-residential accounts could face service shutoff enforcement measures starting this summer too, the Philadelphia Water Department said. Efforts to set up payment plans with those customers have already begun.
Any customer who is struggling to pay their water bills is strongly encouraged to explore their options, such as applying for financial assistance or making payment agreements.
The Tiered Assistance Program allows certain customers to get discounted water rates and have unpaid bills removed from the collections process. Any customer experiencing special hardship is encouraged to apply.
Unexpected medical bills, unemployment and the loss of a family member may all be considered a special hardship.
Customers who do not qualify for financial assistance can set up a payment agreement. Some customers may have a lower down payment and be given more time to pay their bills.
Water service terminations have been banned for the entirety of the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to provide relief to customers who have been financially-impacted by the public health crisis. The most-recent expiration date for the shutoff pause was set for April 1.
More than 70,000 customers have benefitted from the shutoff ban during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Philadelphia Water Department. Roughly 15,000 residents who had their services turned off have since had their water restored.
The Water Revenue Bureau had been waiving penalties and fees on all accounts until further notice. However, all customers are mandated to pay their bills and should do so if possible, as the account balance will continue to increase with each missed payment.