TOLEDO, Ohio — The Ohio EPA issued a moratorium on water disconnections for those unable to pay their bills beginning March 31, due to financial hardship caused by COVID-19. That moratorium expired on July 10, now once again allowing the shut off of water services due to unpaid bills.
However, Toledo City Council passed its own, separate ordinance much earlier on March 10, placing a moratorium on any water shut offs and waiving all late fees for City of Toledo residents until the coronavirus pandemic threat diminishes. In a statement released Friday, the city acknowledged the continuation of its independent ordinance, reiterating that it will not be shutting off water or charging late fees until further notice.
While water will not be shut off for residents, the Department of Public Utilities will continue reading meters and sending invoices monthly. Customers are "strongly encouraged" to make every effort to pay their water bill.
“We understand this is a very challenging time and we want to encourage those customers needing assistance to reach out sooner rather than later for flexible payment plan options,” said Toledo Department of Public Utilities Director, Ed Moore.
The newly formed Water Affordability & Consumer Protection Task Force, working in conjunction with city staff, have been evaluating ways to help customers when disconnections due to non-payment begin again.
The task force stated that due to the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would not be a good decision to start implementing water shut offs at this time. “We want to make sure every effort is made to keep families safe in their homes and be good stewards of their welfare so thank you to the Department of Public Utilities for your decision to keep water turned on."
Water Equity Toledo, a coalition made up of regional, state and local community partners including the Ohio Environmental Council and the Fair Housing Center, praised the decision in a separate statement released Friday.
"Water Equity Toledo wants to thank the City of Toledo for ensuring that Toledoans will not go without access to clean water during this critical time. Water Equity Toledo is committed to working with the Department of Public Utilities as they take on efforts to address water access and affordability within the City of Toledo," said Pastor Randall Carter, spokesperson for Water Equity Toledo.
Toledo Department of Public Utilities customer service representatives are available over the phone Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 419-245-1800 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Representatives will work to assist customers with answering questions about bills, ensuring eligible discounts are applied and providing flexible payment options.
Any changes to the moratorium or a date when it will be lifted will be communicated to customers by mail, official websites and social media.
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