Laurel, Md. – July 21, 2021 – WSSC Water is urging customers who are behind on their water and sewer bills to establish convenient payment plans before water service turnoffs resume. Turnoffs for delinquent commercial and government accounts will resume on August 1; residential accounts on September 13.
“This pandemic has forced our customers to make difficult financial choices, and we want them to know that we are here to help,” said WSSC Water General Manager and CEO Carla A. Reid. “For those behind on their water and sewer bills, please contact us immediately to avoid a disruption of service. We will work with customers to keep our safe, clean water flowing into each home and business in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, WSSC Water has been committed to making water and sewer bills more affordable by enhancing financial assistance programs, expanding payment plans to more customers, waiving late fees and suspending service turnoffs, which began on March 12, 2020.
Today, WSSC Water Commissioners also voted to further enhance financial assistance efforts, effective September 1, 2021, by:
- Reducing turn-on fees for Customer Assistance Program (CAP) customers to $67 (down from the $135 combined turn-on fee);
- Introducing a payment plan incentive that waives late fees for customers who complete their payment plans; and
- Permanently waiving late fees for CAP customers.
“We are happy to offer these additional financial assistance measures and will continue to look for ways to make water and sewer bills more affordable,” added Reid. “However, we must stem the loss of revenue, and continuing the temporary suspension of water service turnoffs is no longer financially viable. We have a public health duty to ensure we have the necessary funds to invest in and improve our infrastructure.”
WSSC Water continues to experience an increase in the amount of money owed by customers compared to before the pandemic. As of mid-July, more than $65 million is past due (approximately 90,000 accounts) compared to $36 million past due (about 73,000 accounts) at the end of February 2020. To date, WSSC Water has not received any state or federal financial assistance to help offset revenue losses due to COVID-19.
Any customer, including commercial and government accounts, can establish a convenient payment plan by calling our Customer Service Advisors at 301-206-4001, Monday - Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 7 p.m. Tenants must first get approval from the property owner to be able to enter into a payment plan.
Customer Assistance Program
We will continue waiving late fees for those enrolled in CAP, which provides a credit for fixed fees (including the Bay Restoration Fund collected on behalf of the state of Maryland) up to $43 per quarter or $172 per year. To enroll, customers must first apply for energy assistance directly through the Maryland Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP). As of July 19, 15,553 customers were enrolled in CAP. Customers that qualify for energy assistance through OHEP will automatically be enrolled in CAP. Learn more at wsscwater.com/cap.
In collaboration with The Salvation Army, the WSSC Water Fund helps residential customers in financial need pay their water/sewer bills. Since the pandemic began, 1,407 households have received $627,000 in assistance from the Water Fund; 100 percent of all donations go directly to those in need. Customers can make multiple requests for help with water and sewer bills, up to $500 per year. To make a tax-deductible donation or to request assistance, go to wsscwater.com/waterfund.
Here to Help: Contact Us
WSSC Water has engaged in an extensive public outreach campaign, Here to Help, which provides information on enhanced financial assistance resources, payment plans, common billing questions, water-saving tips, and how to check for leaks to save money. Visit wsscwater.com/heretohelp for more information.
More Money for Financial Assistance
Because of the pandemic’s economic impact, WSSC Water included $3.3 million in its Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget - a $100,000 increase from the FY 2021 budget - to help more customers struggling to pay their water and sewer bills. To learn more about WSSC Water’s financial assistance programs, visit wsscwater.com/assistance. Eligibility requirements do apply.
COVID-19 Budget Impact
WSSC Water experienced $31.1 million in lost revenue in FY 2020 and is currently projecting a $59.5 million revenue loss in FY 2021. To offset these losses, WSSC Water identified more than $130 million in one-time targeted budget cuts ($57.4 million in FY 2020; $72.7 million in FY 2021), while ensuring mission-critical functions remained fully funded. WSSC Water fully funded the purchase of personal protection equipment to ensure the continued safety of frontline employees. We are continuing to monitor revenue losses while we close FY 2021. It is possible that revenue losses will be greater due to the continued increase in past due accounts. WSSC Water is closely monitoring the financial impact of COVID-19 to determine if additional targeted budget cuts will be necessary.