DC Water expands customer assistance programs as late fees resume September 1
August 19, 2021
DC Water announced it plans to resume applying late fees and charging interest on past due balances beginning September 1, 2021. The Authority advises any customers with a past due balance to contact DC Water if they can’t pay the full amount.
DC Water urges customers who are behind on their bills to contact the Authority at 202-354-3600 or email@example.com to find out what customer assistance programs are available. DC Water has a suite of financial assistance plans—some for emergency relief and some that provide ongoing discounts. Information is also available at dcwater.com/cap, including how to apply for financial assistance or establish a payment plan. During the pandemic, both DC Water and the District government launched new, creative programs to help residents financially impacted by the crisis.
The Authority has resumed notifications to residential, multi-family and commercial customers regarding their past due accounts and the actions that may be taken by DC Water to collect on those. As was the procedure prior to the pandemic, if a customer’s bill is not paid within 30 days of the bill date, a one-time late fee of ten percent will be added to the bill. If it is not paid 60 days or more past the bill date, the account will accrue one percent interest, compounded monthly.
Late fees will be waived for customers who are protected due to their participation in income-qualified programs such as STAY DC, the Utility Discount Program (UDP) which includes DC Water’s customer assistance programs (CAP), Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Those who are qualified for the new Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) and Medicaid or the DC Healthcare Alliance recipients 21 years old and up are also in this group of vulnerable customers.
Any customer with a past due account may request a flexible payment plan. Customers in good standing on their payment arrangements are exempt from penalties and collection activities.
“We recognize our customers most impacted by the pandemic may still be struggling financially,” said DC Water CEO and General Manager David L. Gadis. “We urge those customers to contact us for payment assistance and flexible repayment plans now and to work towards resolution before we implement late fees.”
DC Water’s arrears have increased 98 percent by June 30, 2021, and the amount grows daily. Gadis added, “I don’t take these actions lightly, but we have a duty to continue to provide critical water and sewer services to the District and the region. Our budgets are based on ratepayer funding, and we need to ensure that those who can pay their bill, do so, and those who can’t, get the help they need. There are millions of dollars in assistance, plus ongoing discounts, available.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, DC Water prioritized public health and safety by suspending service disconnections and reconnecting those whose service had been suspended.
Further, the Authority enhanced financial assistance programs, created new ones, expanded payment plans to more customers, and waived late fees and liens until the end of the public health emergency.
DC Water has partnered with a wide range of organizations and agencies to inform the public about this additional assistance. The Authority has presented virtually at dozens of civic groups, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions’, senior centers, homeowner associations and community groups. DC Water reaches out to the District Office of Aging and other District agencies that provide services and support to vulnerable populations. Local food banks have been inserting DC Water Cares fliers into food bags and boxes. In addition, the Authority uses social media, NextDoor, advertising, and the dcwater.com website to publicize these assistance programs. The Authority continues to expand the channels of communication to reach those in need.