Petersburg creates assistance program to help citizens struggling to pay water bill

Petersburg creates assistance program to help citizens struggling to pay water bill
Petersburg water meter. (Source: NBC12)

PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - Leaders in Petersburg announced a plan on Wednesday to help those struggling to pay their water bills.

The city is creating a utility assistance program for those struggling to pay their bills due to unique hardships. Residents can apply for a one time grant to cover 25 percent of their bill.

This comes after state and federal leaders criticized Petersburg for not resuming water service during the pandemic to families who were behind on paying their bills.

City officials fired back saying they’ve been working with families on a case-by-case basis and were hesitant to do a widespread announcement of free re-connections

"What we don’t want individuals to do who can pay is to stop paying. For those who are in need, we want to work with them but we don’t want ordinary citizens who could pay to think that this just means during COVID-19 you can’t pay because none of us truly knows how long this is going to last. " City manager Aretha Ferrell-Benavides said.

Ferrell-Benavides said Petersburg is losing $3 million from past-due water bills.

The assistance program will cover a maximum of $500 for families who qualify.

Dominion Energy and Container First Services contributed $95,000 to help make this possible.

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