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San Antonio water disconnections to resume for the first time in 19 months

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
Robert Puente, President and CEO of the San Antonio Water System.

You can read this story in Spanish by clicking here.

The San Antonio Water System will resume water disconnections Tuesday, Oct. 19 for the first time since the city-owned utility paused the practice at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tens of thousands of SAWS customers fell behind on their utility bills as a result of last year’s historic economic downturns.

The number of delinquent accounts ballooned from 5,000 at the start of the pandemic to more than 65,000 as of September 2021. That translates to about $53.8 million owed by delinquent accounts, which officials say is no longer sustainable for the utility’s operations according to the Express-News.

“We’ve held off disconnections since March 2020, but it’s become imperative that SAWS return to our regular business process,” said Mary Bailey, vice president of Customer Experience and Strategic Initiatives, in a press release.

She added customers are encouraged to seek financial assistance from SAWS to avoid service interruptions.

To set up a payment plan, customers can visit saws.org/getcurrent or call 210-704-SAWS. Customers struggling to pay their water bill could qualify for one of 14 payment assistance programs through SAWS Uplift. Learn more at uplift.saws.org.

Customers with account balances 60 days past due as of Oct. 1 are eligible for cutoffs unless enrolled in payment plans or other SAWS assistance programs. Those most at risk of disconnections are customers who have failed to respond to SAWS outreach efforts, according to SAWS President and CEO, Robert Puente.

“These include phone calls, emails, even block walking door-to-door, leaving hangers on your door asking you to contact us and find out what your situation is,” Puente told TPR’s The Source.

Accounts with delinquent balances of less than $2,000 have been automatically enrolled in four-year payment plans. For customers who make 18 months of payments, plus their current bill, SAWS will write off the rest of the overdue balance.

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