Fairfax County residents struggling to pay their water bills can now apply to Fairfax Water for payment assistance.
The not-for-profit utility provider announced yesterday (Monday) that it has received funds from a COVID-19 Municipal Utility Relief Program that Virginia set up using $120 million in federal CARES Act money.
“These are challenging times for Virginia families and businesses,” Gov. Ralph Northam said when announcing the allocation of $60 million to the program in November. “We remain committed to helping them keep the electricity on and the water running.”
Residents of Fairfax County and the Cities of Falls Church and Fairfax are eligible to apply for the program based on the following criteria:
- Have water and wastewater service bills between Mar. 1 and Dec. 30 are more than 30 days past due
- Have experienced economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Have not previously received CARES Act assistance for water or wastewater bills from any other sources, including the Rebuild Virginia Grant Fund and Fairfax County’s RISE program
To apply for relief, customers must fill out an application form on Fairfax Water’s website and send it to the utility by email, fax, or mail by Dec. 30.
Fairfax Water says it can also work with customers to develop a repayment plan that would allow them to pay their overdue balance over the next six months or longer. Service would not be disconnected as long as the payments are made within the agreed-upon timeframe.
People can call Fairfax Water’s customer service department at 703-698-5800 for more information on setting up an extended payment plan.
In addition, a number of local nonprofit community organizations are offering assistance for utility bill payments. Groups in the Tysons area include Committee for Helping Others (CHO) and Share of McLean.
Fairfax County Coordinated Services Planning has also been connecting residents to social services and resources. It can be contacted on weekdays at 703-222-0880. Falls Church City residents can call the city’s Department of Housing and Human Services for assistance at 703-248-5005.
Thanks to a revised state budget signed by Northam on Nov. 18, utilities in Virginia are currently prohibited from shutting off power, water, and gas service until the state of emergency declared in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
Fairfax Water has suspended all water disconnections due to nonpayment of bills since March, but it warns that that “is not sustainable indefinitely.” As a not-for-profit organization, rather than a government agency, it receives all funding for operations and system maintenance from customers.
“The Fairfax Water drinking water system and the wastewater system operated by Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church…rely on recovering all costs from the systems’ users,” Fairfax Water says. “Fairfax Water anticipates unpaid bills could soon reach a threshold that necessitates our resumption of disconnections for nonpayment.”
Photo by Pan Xiaozhen on Unsplash
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