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Household water cut-offs to be prohibited in Brussels

06:36 03/12/2021

Cutting off water supplies to domestic users in the Brussels region who are behind with their payment will be prohibited next year as a result of new ordinances from the Brussels parliament’s environmental committee.

Providers can currently shut off a household’s water utility due to non-payment, leaving families without any water.

“In Brussels, one in four households do not have access to enough water for their basic needs,” said Brussels environment minister Alain Maron. “We wanted strong social measures. From January onwards, there will a ban on disconnection, intervention in the price of bills and the end of progressive pricing.”

In addition to a prohibition on water cut-offs, other social measures included in the ordinances involve preventing non-payment and the automatic granting of an annual social intervention in the price of water to any household with BIM (beneficiary of increased intervention) status, which is nearly 30% of all Brussels households.

These households can expect to see a reduction in next year’s water bill compared to 2021. That measure will be evaluated within three years in order to ensure that it is properly applied and meets its objectives.

Households that have difficulty paying their water bills can request a reasonable payment plan, which can grant them as many as 18 months to clear a debt.

Another measure reinstates linear pricing for all Brussels residents, meaning the current system of progressive pricing that was introduced in 2006 will be abandoned. Members of the Water Users' Committee and Brupartners determined in a review that this pricing system did not meet its social and ecological objectives.

Water bills will also be revised to provide households with more information about their rights and additional information about social interventions, the ability to apply for a reasonable payment plan and how to request financial aid.

The Brussels parliament's environment committee approved drafts of the ordinances, which will be put to a final vote in plenary by Christmas.

Written by Helen Lyons