03/06/20Safe drinking Water 

Update from Chile operators on COVID19

Chilean private operators' assistance to families during COVID19


Customers of Chilean private water operators have been assured they will continue to have access to water during the COVID19 pandemic even if they cannot afford their tariff.


In an article in Latercera.com this week, Jessica Lopez, Executive President of Chilean association ANDESS, said around 1.5 million people are benefitting because the companies have postponed payments from people who are facing financial difficulties.


But Mrs Lopez added that the reality in Chile is that the country is forecasting a dry winter which will lead to shortages. So it is essential that users who can pay continue to do this, so the companies can invest in trying to ensure there will be enough water next summer.


Speaking about COVID19’s impacts on water company revenues, she said the situation is still unclear but there have definitely been losses.


She made the following points in the article in Latercera.com:


Tariff collection

There are people who pay their bills in person and who have not been able to do so in this period, although part of them has moved to online payment.


Commercial customers' water consumption has had a very significant drop, not offset by the marginal increase in household water consumption.


Today there are close to 500,000 families who have not been able to pay their bill, and who have not been cut off, as we have promised since the start of the pandemic.


Families who cannot pay their bills

The industry is giving payment facilities to the most vulnerable families and those affected by the economic crisis, to postpone the accounts for these months, and pay them later, in 12 installments without interest or fines. 


In any case, our commitment continues: no family will be without supply in this pandemic if they cannot pay their bill. 


This industry continues to operate at full capacity, as it has the responsibility of delivering water to all households in the cities of Chile. But we must warn that it is key to take care of the industry and its payment chain. The main obligations are with workers, suppliers and contractors throughout the country. There must also be the resources to maintain the investments that must be made to face the drought. For this reason, the call for people who can pay their bills to do so, because this ensures that we can continue to support those most affected in this crisis.


ANDESS position on freezing of accounts

We empathize with all the measures that tend to facilitate the hard situation that the most vulnerable families in Chile are experiencing, in terms of health and also of their economic situation. 


In this industry, the rates are set by the regulator every 5 years through a regulated technical process, and it seemed to us that the most important thing was to help families by suspending the service cut for non-payment, and to provide facilities to postpone payment of this months. 


We have made a commitment to Chile in the sense that no customer will be left without water in this pandemic, and there are already close to 1.5 million people benefiting from this measure.


How should the process be carried out?

It is of absolute importance that the suspension of payments is focused on vulnerable families, the elderly and people who have lost their jobs or their contracts have been suspended. There are segments of the country's population that can cover their expenses for basic services. If those sectors continue to responsibly pay their bills, they will allow companies to continue delivering social benefits to customers who really need them.


We have also asked that the beneficiaries have a consumption limit. We are facing the Covid-19 crisis and, in parallel, the drought crisis. The water resource is scarce, so we must establish clear and direct limits and incentives for responsible consumption and make a call to avoid the excessive use of water. The objective is to protect human consumption and sanitary use of water.