Tag Archives: COVID

Additional Pre-Covid Billing Operations to Resume in January 2023

With the new year, there are a few notable changes coming to Charlotte Water (CLTWater). CLTWater has slowly been returning to pre-Covid billing operations, and some of these processes have already been implemented. Beginning January 2023, customers can expect disconnection and reconnection fees ($17 each) to resume.  Also in January, late fees, which are 1.5% of past-due charges, will begin and will appear on February bills.

Charlotte Water continues to look for ways to help customers who need help with their water bills get connected to resources. At the beginning of the pandemic, CLTWater policies were temporarily changed or suspended.  As financial aid programs, CARES Act funding and City grants became available, CLTWater worked closely with community partners like Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (DSS), Housing and Neighborhood Services, and local non-profits community groups such as DreamKey Partners, Crisis Assistance Ministries and Commonwealth Charlotte, to connect thousands of customers with financial aid assistance.

One such financial assistance program was the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP). This federal program was designed specifically for customers who were in danger of having their water service disconnected due to outstanding balances. To better help residents, CLTWater and DSS met regularly and worked intensely to streamline the process of receiving federal funding and distributing the aid directly to customer accounts who qualified. CLTWater was the only utility in the state to auto-match customers with LIHWAP financial assistance.

By implementing this process, and because of the successful partnership with DSS, thousands of Charlotte-Mecklenburg area residents received financial assistance. In just the first round of funding, CLTWater and DSS allocated more than $1.3 million to CLTWater customers, approximately 19% of all LIHWAP funds distributed statewide. The number of outstanding or delinquent CLTWater accounts at risk of disconnection dropped by the thousands, and more federal funding is expected.

Today, CLTWater and DSS representatives continue to meet weekly to keep the process running smoothing, discussing everything from how people are learning about different aid programs, how many accounts are in need of aid, and the best communication strategies to keep the public informed. By working with DSS, CLTWater customers that are in need of water bill assistance can also learn about other utility assistance and housing assistance programs offered by DSS, such as Low Income Energy Assistance Program.

As CLTWater slowly moves back to normal operations, assistance is still available for customers in need of financial help during this time.  Visit CharlotteWater.org, or call 311, and get connected to a variety of resources. 

Charlotte Water Response to COVID-19

As the community’s primary provider of drinking water, Charlotte Water realizes the vital service we provide to the community. As such, the utility has taken the following steps in these unprecedented times to further prioritize uninterrupted safe, reliable and clean drinking water service for the health and welfare of our residents.

Discontinue Service Disconnections – On March 12, Charlotte Water discontinued service disconnections due to non-payment. Those customers who were disconnected at the time have since been re-connected. Customers should continue to make payments to avoid higher bills later.

Suspend Collection of Late Fees – On March 23, Charlotte Water suspended assessment of late fees associated with delinquent accounts in order to further reduce any hardship on customers. Customers who need assistance paying their Charlotte Water bill can contact 311 (704-336-7600) to learn about payment arrangement options as well as other community resources available to assist. Customers can also visit charlottewater.org to review available payment methods.

Shift Work Priorities – In a heightened effort to maintain constant water service, Charlotte Water has reassigned crews to focus on work that will cause the fewest interruptions in water service to customers. Steps taken to avoid service outages include:

  • postponing non-critical work,
  • installing temporary water connections where possible,
  • delaying low priority leak repairs, and
  • performing other important work that doesn’t require a water service outage.

Only in the most extreme cases of emergency and public safety is Charlotte Water doing work that would cause a temporary water service outage. In those instances, we are minimizing the outage duration and providing bottled water to the affected customers. Where practical, overnight work is also considered.

The steps taken by Charlotte Water allow the utility to comply with current NC Executive Orders, to keep contractors and employees working on important infrastructure maintenance, and, most importantly, to provide a service so critical to our community right now.

Questions related to COVID-19

Due to the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for frequent hand-washing, effective immediately, and until further notice, Charlotte Water will not disconnect water service accounts for non-payment.  Those currently disconnected will be re-connected.  Charlotte Water is committed to protecting our residents and providing them consistent access to high-quality water no matter their account status.

  • Does that mean I don’t have to pay my water bill anymore? No, customers are still responsible to pay for all water services received during this time and should continue to make payments to avoid a higher bill at a later date.
  • What is the reasoning behind this? It is to ensure that everyone has access to water for sanitary purposes as well as to not add any additional stress to our community members during this time.
  • How many people will this affect? 117 customer accounts will be turned back on within 24 hours.
  • When will this moratorium on delinquent shut-offs end? We will stay in contact with health officials to determine the appropriate time to lift the moratorium.
  • Has Charlotte Water ever done this before? We have done this in times where our community was in stress, such as severe weather (hurricanes) that caused mass power outages and other hardships for our community. For example, if many customers are without power due to severe weather, we will not add additional stress by turning a customer’s water off for non-payment.
  • How do I pay my water bill? Visit https://charlottenc.gov/Water/RatesBilling/Pages/WaterBill.aspx for information on all the ways you can pay your bill.
  • Where may I get help paying my bill? We encourage all customers who are having trouble paying their bill to call 311 (704-336-7600) to set up a payment plan or be referred to Crisis Assistance Ministries.

Fortunately, our strong partnership with Crisis Assistance Ministries has allowed us to refer customers that are due to be disconnected for delinquency. In most cases, all these customers have had their service restored within 24 hours.

Over the past 12 years, Charlotte Water has implemented various programs to reduce the number of delinquent turn-offs. The annual average of accounts that have been turned off for nonpayment has been around 1,600/month which is a reduction from our all-time high average of over 3,300 per month in 2017/2018.