Water bill payment plans and hardship programs.
A number of water companies allow qualified customers to enter into some form of payment plan. These can be a standard program or they may be customized to fit the individual customers needs. In addition to that option, some companies may offer discounts on water or sewer bills or provide some type of direct financial assistance.
While not all water companies offer these resources to customers, it is worth while to ask. They are not usually well known or advertised to customers, so people need to specifically ask for any type of payment programs or financial aid that may be available to them. Even if a water company does not offer this to customers, they may be able to refer individuals to other local charities or non-profits. While it is rare, in some municipalities there may be some form of government cash assistance program for paying water or sewer bills.
If you have fallen behind on paying your utility, water, or sewer bills, or if you are afraid you might in the near future miss a payment, your water provider may be able to help you. Learn about any programs or negotiate a payment plan with the companies listed below.
As indicated, the terms and conditions will vary widely from company to company. Some examples of payment plans or what you may expect to encounter from your provider include some or all of the following. Below tend to be some of the more common conditions to any program.
- A partial payment may need to be made. Customers may need to make a one time deposit of a certain percentage of their total outstanding charges on their water and sewer bills in order to enter into this type of program. This will include past due and current charges on the account.
- The length of the plan will be variable based on several conditions. This can include how timely you were in paying your water bills in the past. Payments can be made for periods of usually up to one year. In some cases, the extension may be for up to three years or more should monthly payments be over a certain threshold and dollar amount.
- Almost all companies will require and enforce that the customer remain current with future water bills and make their payments on time. Failure to do so will result in a default or termination of any agreement. Customers that miss a payment may have their service disconnected and their account may be referred to a collection agency as well.
In some cases, a so called water shut-off payment plan may be available. This will be for households who are currently without service. To participate in a payment plan after your water service has disconnected for non-payment, some of those terms may be as follows.
A larger down payment is usually required. In general, households will need to make a more significant down payment of 50% of the total charges for any unpaid sewer and water bills. This will include past due and current charges. In these cases, the customer will also need to remain current on their account. If not, then the company may shut off your account.
Hardship payment plans and programs may be offered. This can often combine some form of short term discount with a payment plan as indicated above. This will generally be available for families that are facing some type of time defined, short term crisis or emergency. A down payment is generally required as well as a formal agreement to remain current on your account.
Discounts may be an option. Some companies may offer this to a customer facing a crisis. Or senior citizens living on a fixed income or pension may have a portion of their fees waived or be provided a more longer term discount on their account.
No matter who your water company is or the type of program someone is applying to, proof of their financial situation and/or hardship is required. Applicants will need to show certification of any of the following programs or classifications:
- That they are currently enrolled in the federally funded low income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP).
- They are enrolled in SNAP food stamps.
- Proof of state or federal Government Issued Unemployment Compensation.
- Federal Public Housing / Section 8 voucher recipients.
- Proof of age of all income levels, including seniors.
- On active military duty, including national guard or reservists. Or veterans that have been discharged from the military in the last 180 days.
- Income of all household members, including pay stubs, child care, and other sources.
- If the applicant receives cash assistance for their water bills, they need documentation for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or be participants in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Low income women that are participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
- Individuals receiving workers compensation income benefits or disability payments.
In general, residents can apply for a water bill payment plan at a processing center. In this way they can get in-person customer service. Or feel free to call your companies billing and/or collections customer service department for details.
The first thing to do is to contact your provider directly, as soon as possible. You can use the water company customer service phone number. Be sure to have a complete copy of your bill and supporting documentation of income, assets, etc. with you.
Customer service representatives can generally walk you through any plans and programs. They can help with negotiating a payment plan. It is key to start the process as soon as possible. Households that wait will have morel limited options available to them.
Water company programs by state and county
Information on payment plans for some states and providers are below. Even if your sewer or water provider is not listed, you can still ask the company for help. Or look into other financial assistance programs or non-profit resources.