SWBNO experiencing meter reading staff shortages due to COVID-19, customers should expect estimated bills

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NEW ORLEANS – The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans’ (SWBNO) meter reading team is experiencing severe staff shortages because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, SWBNO released the following statement:

While very few employees have tested positive for COVID-19, several additional employees had direct contact with them and are now under precautionary quarantine.

As a result, we are unable to complete our meter reading routes. We must estimate the water and sewer service bills for our customers who were scheduled to have their meters read this week.

To ease the burden on our customers, we will not be assessing new late fees in March and April, and our suspension of water service shutoffs will remain in place. Please continue to pay for your water and sewer service during this declared emergency. The funds help us continue to provide clean water so that you and your neighbors can protect your households’ health during this pandemic.

We ask for patience among our commercial customers during this declared emergency. We understand many businesses are closed to promote social distancing and to keep our city as safe as possible, and therefore will be using substantially less water and sewer services. Our estimates will be based on previous months where these businesses operated under normal conditions. As a result, the estimates may not reflect the lower use of the last couple of weeks. Be assured that when we can read meters again, we will account for these discrepancies and credit those accounts that experienced high estimates.

To estimate a residential bill, we will:

  • Take your four previous readings, two of which are required to be actual readings (not estimates) and,
  • Calculate how many gallons of water you use each day on average, then
  • Multiply that by the number of days in the present billing period.

If you have fewer than two actual reads in the past four months, we will estimate your bill. For residential customers, that estimation will be based on 170 gallons a day for each account. This number is based on the typical consumption of SWBNO customers.


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