DeKalb County plans to lift a five-year-old moratorium on water disconnections, which started in 2016 after residents complained about abnormally high bills.

Current DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond announced he would lift the moratorium in an April 21 press release, saying the problems that led to those high water bills have been fixed.

County officials previously said issues with outdated technology caused inaccuracies in billing. Former Interim CEO Lee May put the moratorium into effect to make sure residents wouldn’t have their water disconnected while they disputed the high bills. 

The moratorium is scheduled to lift on July 1. Extended payment time will be arranged for customers whose ability to pay has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the press release, over the past four years complaints about disputed water bills have decreased from 4,000 to less than 200. Other improvements include releasing 37,000 bills that previously could not be verified, replacing 82,000 defective water meters, outfitting 70% of customers with electronic transmitters for more accurate readings, and hiring and training about two dozen staff. 

“Restoring trust by understanding the root cause of the billing problems, taking corrective actions and being responsive to customer concerns has been our goal,” said Thurmond in the press release. “We have learned from past mistakes but we did not dwell on it. I was hired by the citizens of DeKalb County to fix a problem and that has been done.”

Sammie Purcell is Associate Editor at Rough Draft Atlanta.