Tuesday morning, officials with El Paso Water announced that the utility will resume its normal billing collection processes in February while continuing to offer long-term payment plans to both residential and commercial customers.
Customers with overdue balances are encouraged to contact the utility immediately to make payments to avoid service disconnections.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have remained committed to supporting our customers with flexible payment options and assistance programs,” said President and CEO John Balliew. “Resuming disconnections is not something we take lightly, but it’s necessary to avoid the mounting customer account balances that continue to increase, impacting all of our customers.”
When the pandemic forced Texas to shut down in March 2020, El Paso Water had already voluntarily suspended disconnections for nonpayment to provide relief to customers experiencing financial hardship.
Now, almost a year later, an estimated 20,000 customers are more than 60 days behind on their bills. With the help of CARES Act funding and partnerships with local non-profits, EPWater has been able to help more than 2,400 customers with emergency payment
assistance toward overdue water bills.
Since November, EPWater has been proactively reaching out by phone to commercial and residential customers with large overdue balances. The utility has encouraged them to make payments toward balances or apply for payment assistance programs.
With the return to normal bill collection processes, EPWater will be reaching out to more customers in the coming weeks either by phone, mail or door-hanger. Customers who have made a good faith effort to contact the utility about overdue balances and make payment arrangements will be at a low risk of disconnection while those customers who have had particularly high consumption and made no effort to make payments for many months are at higher risk of disconnection.
“This move is also important from a conservation standpoint,” Balliew added. “We have seen our community consumption increase this last year. Increased consumption drives up the cost of water for all customers. By resuming normal collections, our customers will be more careful with their water use.”
To make payment arrangements, or to find out about assistance programs with partner organizations, please call 915- 594-5500.
Utility official added that customers should know that when utility employees make in-person visits to customers, they will always be in uniform, wearing masks and driving company-marked vehicles. They will never ask you to purchase a pre-paid debit card and will never demand payment in-person. If you have any concerns, please contact EPWater or the police department.