NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Thursday, the New Orleans City Council approved new regulations to assist customers with Sewerage & Water Board (SWBNO) billing regulations.

This comes after many customers received high water bills and had issues with finding answers.

The ordinance states if SWBNO fails to bill a customer for three or more consecutive billing cycles, it forfeits its right to collect payments for those cycles. The ordinance also requires SWBNO to provide customers with a timestamped note following meter readings. 

If a customer receives a bill 20% higher than their last, they can select a deferred payment arrangement. Following a billing dispute, if a customer chooses to appeal the decision to the Council, the Council Utilities Regulatory Office (CURO) will review the appeal for completeness to determine if it will proceed.

SWBNO released a statement Friday afternoon.

“While we agree with most of the new procedures, our Leadership Team expressed to the City Council some concerns regarding two of the new requirements that would negatively impact revenue and more importantly pose safety challenges to our employees, especially our meter reading team. Adding costly steps to stretched resources and a laborious process goes contrary to what we are working hard towards, which is full automation of the billing process.  

We will continue to work with City Council members toward finding more common ground with the shared goal of serving our customers in the best way possible while keeping our team’s safety as a top priority.