Baltimore residents haven’t received a water bill since early May — and that will remain the case until at least early August, Mayor Jack Young said Wednesday.
An aggressive ransomware attack halted digital city services including the Department of Public Works’ water and sewage billing system on May 7th. Since then, the billing system has remained offline.
Residents have two options during the ongoing offline period to either make an estimated monthly payment by mail or in person at the Abel Wolman Municipal Building, or wait to receive a bill that will cover the offline period once digital payments are restored.
Officials throughout city government, including DPW Director Rudy Chow, have advised residents who aren’t making estimated monthly payments to set money aside for the incoming bill, which will cover several months.
“I’m hoping they have done that,” Young said.
“Each day that Baltimore City fails to deliver a comprehensive water billing plan for residents is another day families are left guessing and stressing over looming bills,” said Food & Water Watch Senior Maryland Organizer Rianna Eckel.
“We shouldn’t have to remind our elected officials that saving such large quantities of money is an undue burden on Baltimoreans who live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to pay their monthly water bills as is,” Eckel said.
When bills arrive, they’ll reflect charges from May, June and July. Some customers may receive bills covering April.
Charges from July 1st on will be a bit heftier, too. A 10 percent water bill increase went into effect at the beginning of the month, the first in a three-year series that will raise bills 30 percent. The same day, DPW launched a new payment assistance plan for low-income residents.