ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — After suspending all residential service disconnections back in March 2020, the Western Virginia Water Authority (WVWA) is finally resuming those disconnections for people with overdue balances starting in October.
According to the WVWA, beginning on Oct. 1, customers with past-due balances more than 45-days-old will lose their water service unless they have an approved payment plan.
As stated in a news released from the WVWA on Wednesday, Sept. 22, there are currently more than 2,000 customers in the company’s service area that are more than 45-days past due on their account, which represents a total past due debt of more than $790,000.
The company urges customers with overdue balances to either apply for financial assistance or establish a payment plan before service disconnections start back up next month.
The COVID-19 pandemic created financial difficulties for many neighbors in our community. For some, it meant that they were not able to pay for the water and sewer service they received. The Western Virginia Water Authority (Authority) recognized this financial need in our community and stopped residential service disconnections on March 7, 2020 while continuing to provide water and wastewater service to all customers during the pandemic. The Commonwealth of Virginia also put a state-wide moratorium on utility disconnections that was in effect until August 30, 2021.
The Western Virginia Water Authority plans to resume disconnection of service for customers with past due balances more than 45-days old starting October 1 unless the customer has an approved payment plan with the Authority.
Throughout the pandemic, the Authority communicated with customers to get their accounts paid current, get financial assistance, or establish an approved payment plan with the Authority that allows a portion of the past due debt to be paid each month along with the current charges.
Between March 2020 and August 2021, financial assistance in the amount of $350,000 was provided to over 2,100 customers. These funds came from the CARES Act ($100,000) and the Municipal Utility Relief program ($144,000) and the Authority Cares financial assistance program. There is a larger financial need in the community than there is funds available in these assistance programs. Authority customers can assist with this financial need by rounding up or adding $1, $3, $5 or $10 to each monthly bill through the Customer Cares program (www.westernvawater.org/customercares).
There are currently over 2,000 customers in the Authority’s service area that are more than 45-days past due on their account representing a total past due debt of over $790,000. The monthly average number of customers subject to disconnection for nonpayment in Fiscal Year 19, prior to the pandemic, was 316.
Customers who are past due can avoid disconnection by applying for financial assistance or a payment plan on the Authority’s website (www.westernvawater.org/authoritycares). Customers can get a payment plan for up to 24 months depending on the amount of the past due debt. If a customer did not receive financial assistance during the pandemic, they can receive up to $200 in direct financial assistance once every 12 months while funds are available.
If the water service gets disconnected for nonpayment and the customer cannot pay the full balance on the account to restore service, customers will be required to pay a predetermined amount to qualify for a payment plan and get service restored. Customers who have past due balances are strongly encouraged to take the steps to get assistance or a payment plan before service disconnections resume October 1.Sarah Baumgardner, director of public relations for the Western Virginia Water Authority
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