Customers ask for end to water shut-offs

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URBANA, Ill. (WCIA)–A mother of two had her water turned off. She says during a pandemic that should not be happening. “There is absolutely no excuse for people’s water to be turned off,” said Giovanna Dibinedetto. However, earlier this week Dibinedetto says her water was shut-off. “I’d gotten my water bill. I knew it was due that week, and I’m on a fixed income. I’d pay it when my check came. I opened my door, and there was a red little flyer on there saying I’d been disconnected and to turn the water back on it was going to be $129. I had no shut off notice,” said Dibinedetto. She reached out to the Cunningham Township for help. They paid it. The Cunningham Township Supervisor says Dibinedetto is not the only person dealing with a shut-off.

Thursday protestors gathered outside Illinois American Water to voice their concerns. “It is totally unconscionable that Illinois American Water would allow people to go without water during a pandemic,” said Danielle Chynoweth, Cunningham Township Supervisor.

We spoke with a representative from Illinois American Water. She said they are doing everything they can to prevent shut-offs. They’re communicating with customers in several different ways. They have also partnered with the Salvation Army for the ‘H-2-O’ Help To Others Program. People can get up to 200 dollars and possibly more in extenuating circumstances. Illinois American Water says they have helped more than 100 households in the Champaign County area with the program, and more money is available. However, some customers say it’s not right for anyone to have service turned off during a pandemic. “You leave your house. You come back in and you basically need to do a wash down of some sort. Yet they are going around turning people’s water off,” said Dibinedetto.

Illinois American Water says if you have a past due balance, don’t wait to call. They have a moratorium available for customers who call and say they are facing a financial hardship. People can call them at 1-800-422-2782 for more information on the H2O Help To Others Program, or visit their website. They can also contact the Salvation Army.

The Cunningham Township Supervisor says those behind on water, sewer, rent or mortgage payments due to COVID-19 are encouraged to apply for financial support by the November 30th deadline through Champaign County Regional Planning Commission online at ccrpc.org/covid-19-resources. For non-COVID-19 Water Bill Assistance, contact the Salvation Army at (217)373-7825. Power bill assistance is available for households making up to 200% of the poverty level through LIHEAP: www.ccrpc.org/liheap or call 217- 384-1226.

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