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Calls on Tucson Water to cancel debt for customers behind on their bills

Posted at 11:23 PM, Jun 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-03 12:23:13-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The pandemic presented challenges to everyone.

"For a lot of people it may somewhat be over but for a lot of us, it's not," said Glenda Avalos, who volunteers with Casa Maria.

Avalos said she lost her mother to the pandemic.

Now she said, like others gathered here on Wednesday, they're struggling to catch up on their finances.

"I know so many people trying to figure out now how to pay their water bill."

Tucson Water said 10,000 accounts are behind on their bills totaling about $3 million.

That's actually typical, the utility provider told KGUN 9, in January it reported $9 million in delinquent bills, the highest figure it reached during the pandemic.

Luz Acosta said the last bill that arrived at her home was for about $130.

Her family is one of several at Casa Maria calling on Tucson Water to cancel the debt.

She said it's only been one month since her family was able to pay it down because Tucson Water threatened to take them to court.

Next week Tucson's City Council will host a public forum to discuss whether to raise rates on unincorporated areas for water usage, also called 'differential rates.

This group said if approved, those rate hikes should cancel the existing debts.

"It would be a tremendous relief for my family as we struggle to catch up with one bill and then we look forward to another one," Avalos said.

Acosta said her son, currently a college student, is working part-time to help his family pay their bills.

She said it's very hard because he has to pay his internet bill for his school.

She added I feel bad asking him for help but explains that they have to make ends meet.

Avalos said families worrying about paying bills shouldn't have to worry about going without water in the hot summer months.

"To be able to beat that borderline of whether or not you lose it, is such a stressful situation to be in."