The CFPUA Board on Wednesday, December 9, voted to postpone for 60 days a pilot program to test an alternative for residential customers who previously would have been eligible for water service disconnections because of unpaid bills.
Delinquency-related shutoffs have been a standard practice among utilities nationwide and typically occur only as a last resort, after the failure of repeated efforts to encourage a customer make contact to work out a plan such as monthly payments to get back on track. In nearly all cases, delinquencies resulting in shutoffs are quickly resolved and water service is resumed.
CFPUA announced in March that it was suspending delinquency-related shutoffs and late fees, more than two weeks before Governor Cooper ordered a moratorium on those measures in Executive Order 142. E.O. 142 expired on July 30, 2020, and a number of utilities have resumed or announced plans to resume shutoffs. CFPUA, however, has maintained its suspension of shutoffs for residential customers and has no plans to resume them while the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing.
In September, the Board approved a resolution to launch a pilot program in January 2021 to test whether limiting water flow, rather than shutting it off completely, could be effective in nudging customers who had not yet responded to previous outreach to contact us. The pilot was to have begun with about a dozen accounts that had the oldest and largest balances.
Over the past few months, CFPUA conducted outreach to customers with overdue balances that are at least 60 days old and total at least $100 to encourage them to contact our Customer Service department at 910-332-6550 or online at CFPUA.org so we can work together to develop plans to help get them back on track before delinquencies increase to unmanageable amounts.
As of December 1, residential delinquencies totaled more than $2.75 million, including City of Wilmington solid waste and stormwater fees that appear on CFPUA bills. Of those, the average delinquent amount is more than $450.
For customers who are having trouble paying bills, CFPUA offers a variety of flexible, no-interest payment plans. Customers who contact CFPUA and enter payment plans or otherwise resolve delinquencies return to normal account status and no longer are eligible for water restrictions.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the Board voted to postpone implementation of the pilot by 60 days, until March. During this time, staff will increase and broaden efforts to encourage customers who may be having trouble with bills to contact CFPUA to begin working on solutions.
Want to help?
CFPUA Assist is a program administered by New Hanover County DHHS that helps customers who may be struggling with their water bills. The program is funded entirely by donations. To contribute or to learn more, visit waterway-online.com.
Are you behind on your CFPUA bill? We have a number of options to work with your budget. Call our Customer Service Department at 910-332-6550 to begin getting things back on track.