RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The City of Raleigh Public Utilities Dept., also known as Raleigh Water, is warning its customers to contact the utility as soon as possible to avoid their water from being shut off this month.
Raleigh Water was one of the first municipalities in the state to stop disconnecting customers' service at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last March, before Gov. Roy Cooper ordered utilities to do so.
"We feel like we've waited as long as we can, and we really want our customers to get on payment plans," Raleigh Water Engineering Manager Eileen Navarrete said.
Raleigh Water serves customers in Garner, Knightdale, Raleigh, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wendell and Zebulon, and has about 12,000 accounts currently outstanding.
"We don't have to cut anyone's water off," Navarrete said.
As long as customers are making an effort to pay, Raleigh Water does not plan to cut service. Navarrete said state law requires the utility to collect on money owed and the longer customers go without paying their bills, the harder it will be for them to catch up.
Before the pandemic, Raleigh Water offered three-month payment plans to its customers, but it's now offering a 12-month payment plan option.
"We can't automatically set our customers up on payment plans," said Navarrete. "We need our customers to call us."
CONTACT RALEIGH WATER FOR CUSTOMER ASSISTANCE: 919-996-3333
The utility's outreach team has been working to connect customers with assistance options, Navarrete said, including phone calls and emails, posting signs and posters, contacting local non-profits and faith-based organizations, and partnering with the Wake County Public School System to distribute the information.
Still, thousands of customers' water bills are past due and Raleigh Water needs to hear from those customers to avoid service interruption at such a critical time as this.
"We know this has been a really hard year for our customers, and we know that things are going to continue to be difficult," said Navarrete. "And we want to do everything we can to help our customers get the assistance they might need."
How Raleigh Water customers can avoid water shutoff