Baton Rouge Water Company criticized for water shutoff fee charged to customers impacted by Ida

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Blanche Fitch is not happy that the Baton Rouge Water Company charged her $30 for turning off her water after Ida.

“I was like really shocked that I would be charged to turn off a service. I was told that they were to provide water, to send water to homes, not to take water away from homes,” said Fitch.

Fitch was out of town during the hurricane. A tree fell on her home, bursting her pipes and for three days water flowed nonstop.

“Niagra Falls was just coming through my roof. It was really, really a massive amount of water. Not a trickle. A massive amount of water like you were fighting a fire,” said Fitch.

In a statement, the water company said, “Homeowners are required to maintain a stop and waste valve so water can quickly be turned off for repairs or in an emergency. Because not every home maintains that requirement, we make sure we have employees who can be taken from another task or called out after hours to turn off water at the meter. We recover that cost, at our cost only. Honestly, we would love to not charge anything following a storm or during a pandemic or for any unfortunate issue that a homeowner or business may face. However, we do one thing, and we believe we do it well, and that is [to] ensure the water is there when you turn on the tap. That takes discipline to make what we believe are the best decisions to allow investment in projects so that the company can keep producing water – whether it’s due to a storm or for the long-term future of the system.”

“I feel really, really bad because it’s a public service,” said Fitch.

Blanche does not have a stop and waste valve. When asked could be the fee be waived, the company said no.

“During a disaster as this, you would hope that everybody would pitch in and help as opposed to holding back. It should be something in place that the facilities that we pay for should be able to assist us during a disaster,” said Fitch.

For customers who received high water bills, the company suggests calling customer service at 225-925-2011 to talk with someone about their bill. Customers may request a credit once they have proven that the plumbing lines have been repaired in conjunction with a natural disaster.

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