NEW ORLEANS -- The Sewerage & Water Board will soon begin to turn off water for customers who have outstanding balances as it works to reduce a massive backlog of 7,000 disputed bills worth nearly $14 million.
The agency said Thursday that a team of trained analysts will review every disputed bill to decide if it is eligible for an adjustment. Any adjustment would be based on the customer’s history of water usage as well as a standard bill adjustment calculation.
Customers will receive a letter from the S&WB that will notify them about any adjustment or requirement to pay an outstanding balance. Any customer who disagrees with the decision about his or her bill has 10 days from receiving the letter to schedule a hearing.
The expedited reviews that the S&WB has begun will happen only for customers who disputed their bills before June 22.
The S&WB has said the outstanding balances have caused a cash-flow problem for the agency after it doled out $82 million since last summer's floods to make infrastructure improvements.
Water shutoffs will resume Aug. 1. The S&WB halted that practice last November as it worked to make improvements to its problematic billing system, which has been blamed for many bills that have charged customers thousands of dollars in some cases.
Customers who need help paying bills can set up a payment plan with the S&WB to avoid having their water turned off. The agency said customers who choose that option must pay 25 percent of their bill up front. The balance will be paid off in equal payments during a nine-month period.