Some municipal water systems in the Lansing area are holding water shutdowns until July

MASON, Michigan – Michigan passed the Water Shut Off Restoration Act in December that prohibited public water utilities from ceasing operations to occupied homes until March 31.

That deadline has passed, but some municipal water systems have announced that the moratorium on water shutdowns will continue until at least July.

“The city of Mason has stopped the water shutdown in accordance with the governor’s instructions, and we have also chosen to stop charging late fees in late spring or early summer,” said Mason Mayor Russ Whipple. “Then the governor’s executive order on these matters expired after being declared unconstitutional. With the water bills in January, we started collecting late fees again. But at our own discretion through our own water and sanitation ordinance, we have done this. ” I’ve decided to keep the no-shutoff process running until July. ”

Lansing Board of Water and Light general manager Dick Peffley said their customers “won’t turn off their water supplies until July”.

BWL also works individually with its customers in the event of late fees.

“Hopefully this will catch up with our customers because, as you know, the numbers are rising again,” added Peffley.

April 2021 was the worst month for COVID cases in Ingham County, according to the New York Times.

Jackson City Information Officer Aaron Dimick said the city has no plans to resume the water shutdown, but residents are still being billed and receiving late fees.

Charlotte City Public Works director Amy Gilson said the city council hadn’t picked up the issue and she wasn’t sure when it would.

Mason resumed late charging in January because Whipple said it didn’t result in the city’s water and sanitation fund being $ 22,000 last year.

“We found that people even told us they wouldn’t pay their bills because they weren’t being charged late fees,” he said. “So what we really found was that it didn’t seem to be a huge problem for the people of Mason anyway, as there really was no change or significant impact or an increase in the number of people struggling to pay their water bills.”

Whipple urges anyone who may have trouble paying their water bills to contact the city directly.

“There are a number of resources available to the people through the state (through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority). For renters, there is a program that helps people who are struggling to pay water bills when their leases do so and there is what is called a government emergency program that helps seniors and low-income people who own their homes and are struggling to pay their water bills that are available to everyone, “Whipple said.

Peffley said customers who are having trouble paying should contact Business Administration.

“We will work with you. We have resources to help you. We did this before the pandemic, this is not new to us, and we will continue to do so as long as we are here to provide water supplies,” Peffley said .

Peffley said business administration will do a re-evaluation in early June and if the COVID numbers are not where they believe it is necessary, they will extend the moratorium beyond July.

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