September 29, 2020
Philadelphia residents who are struggling to make ends meet will not have to worry about their water being shut off for the next six months.
The Philadelphia Water Department has extended its shutoff protection measures until April 1 due to the financial hardships prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The extension overlaps with the department's annual winter shutoff ban that protects vulnerable customers from Dec. 1 through March 31.
Service terminations have been frozen for the entirety of the coronavirus pandemic. The most-recent expiration date for the shutoff pause was set for Wednesday.
Roughly 15,000 previously shut-off customers had water service restored at the start of the pandemic, the Philadelphia Water Department said.
"We're ensuring people continue to have access to clean water because it is essential to public health," Philadelphia Water Department Commissioner Randy Hayman said. "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.
"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 waiving penalties and fees on all accounts until further notice. However, all account holders are still mandated to pay their bills and should do so if possible, as the account balance will continue to increase with each missed payment.
Customers who cannot pay their bills are urged to make payment agreements or apply for assistance.
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 assistance can set up a payment agreement. Some customers may have a lower downpayment and be given more time to pay.