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Tucson Water customers must act on delinquent bills soon or face shutoff
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Tucson Water customers must act on delinquent bills soon or face shutoff

Tucson Water provides service to more than 700,000 people, or about 80% of the area’s population. More than 22,000 customers are in some stage of delinquency on their bills.

Thousands of Tucson Water customers behind on their bills will have to start paying up soon as the city plans to lift a moratorium on utility shut-offs in mid-March.

On Tuesday, the Tucson mayor and council directed Tucson Water to resume shutting off water accounts for nonpayment beginning March 15.

As of this week, more than 22,000 Tucson Water customers were in some stage of delinquency on their bills, Tucson Water spokesman Fernando Molina said.

An action plan presented to the council by Tucson Water shows that as of Jan. 28, about 8,500 customers were on their third delinquency notice, which would normally trigger scheduling of a service shut-off.

The utility says it’s working to notify customers of the impending change and to make customers aware of the more than $1 million in utility bill-paying assistance that is still available for COVID-related financial hardship.

“Our main message to customers behind on their bills is to please get in touch with us before March 15,” said John Kmiec, interim director of Tucson Water.

Kmiec noted that the utility has several ways to help customers bring their accounts current, including special COVID-related bill assistance, regular assistance programs and extended payment plans.

Customers already enrolled in Tucson Water’s low-income assistance program will get an extra 30 days, until mid-April, before they are subject to shut-off.

Tucson Water provides service to more than 700,000 people, or about 80% of the Tucson-area population, through about 235,000 customer connections.

The utility, which bills for water, sewer and garbage collection services, said the amount owed on delinquent bills ballooned from about $3 million normally to nearly $9 million amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but that had dropped to around $7 million by the end of January

In its request to the council, Tucson Water said the shut-off moratorium in place since last March has made it difficult to collect payments or enroll customers in the utility’s low-income rate program.

Suspended late fees have also cost Tucson Water an estimated $2 million.

The City Council has approved $1.5 million in utility bill-paying assistance — $500,000 each for water, sewer and garbage services — for customers with incomes of less than 200% of the federal poverty level, which based on the 2020 federal income level amounts to $52,400 for a family of four.

Tucson Water has received about 2,200 applications for aid from the city fund and approved about 1,600, Molina said.

The assistance program helps customers pay half their outstanding service charges if they agree to get on a 12-month payment plan for the remaining balance.

Tucson Water is urging customers with delinquent accounts to take the following actions:

  • Check your utility services statement to ensure you are current on your bill.
  • Check your mail for any notices from Tucson Water, which will be sending notices to all delinquent customers.
  • To make payments, go to

tucsonaz.gov/PayUtility

  • or call 791-3242.
  • Visit

tucsonaz.gov/UtilityBillsHelp

  • or call 791-3253 to see if you qualify for COVID-related utility assistance for water, sewer and trash services.
  • Visit

pima.gov/UtilityBillsHelp

  • for information on all COVID-19-related assistance available in the region.

Contact senior reporter David Wichner at dwichner@tucson.com or 573-4181. On Twitter: @dwichner. On Facebook: Facebook.com/DailyStarBiz.

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