Baltimore collects $25 million through water shutoff threats, mainly from residents

WaterIsLifePhotograph: Foodandwaterwatch.org

Residents have paid $21.8M to stop Baltimore’s water shutoffs; businesses $3.6M

Baltimore collects $25M after threatening water shutoffs — most of it from residents.
The city of Baltimore has collected more than $25 million after threatening 25,000 properties this spring with water shut-offs over long-unpaid bills.

Department of Public Works spokesman Jeffrey Raymond said residential accounts have paid $21.8 million of $29.5 million owed, while commercial accounts have paid $3.6 million of $15 million owed since the water shut-offs began in April. As of last week, the city had shut off water to more than 4,000 residential properties, but restored more than 2,000 of those after bills were paid, Raymond said.
The city has shut off water to three of the 369 commercial properties with long-unpaid bills. Nine more commercial properties are subject to turnoff by the end of the month, Raymond added.

In March, city officials announced they were sending turn-off notices to 25,000 delinquent water customers, giving them 10 days to pay long overdue bills or face the loss of water service. The customers — both residential and commercial users in the city and Baltimore County — together owed more than $40 million in past-due bills.

But the city’s enforcement has drawn criticism from council members and residents who argue Baltimore is more heavily targeting residents – and not businesses – in the collection effort.

The city has about 400,000 water customers, about half of which are in Baltimore County. City officials have said they will shut off water to customers with unpaid bills of more than $250 dating back at least half a year.

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