The federal government let DC Water know they would be behind in paying $5 million they owe on their water bill, which caused the board of directors to joke that perhaps they should shut off the water at the White House for the lack of payment. The reason the General Services Administration (GSA) is behind in the federal government water bill payments is, you guessed it, the funding lapse caused by the government shutdown. Another ironic element here is it brings to mind President Trump’s claims that landlords, utility companies, and the like will be understanding and make allowances for the 800,000 federal workers who are without paychecks during the government shutdown. Now we see that the federal government can’t pay its own utility bills in full at present.
The General Services Administration had notified DC Water that it would be late with $5 million of the $16.5 million due for its water bill. That notice was the subject of discussion at a board of directors meeting for DC Water, where the joking about cutting off the White House’s water happened. According to The Hill:
Members of the board of directors at DC Water, the water authority for the city of Washington, D.C., joked Tuesday during a meeting about the possibility of shutting off plumbing to the White House amid the ongoing government shutdown…“We received an email Wednesday, January 2, from an individual at the bureau of fiscal services at the treasury,” DC Water CFO Matthew Brown reportedly said at the meeting, before explaining that the federal government had informed the company it would be late on approximately $5 million of its $16.5 million due water bill…The board’s chairman, Tommy Wells, responded with an inquiry about shutting off the government’s water, apparently in jest. “That brings up an interesting question,” said Wells, according to the news outlet. “Is there a time from nonpayment when we cut someone’s water off?” “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, is that what you’re talking about?” another member joked, according to WAMU.
The federal government is likely to be given more leniency in being delinquent than your average consumer, both because of the magnitude of their business and because the utilities know that the bills will eventually be paid, once the shutdown is over. Vincent Morris, a spokesperson for DC Water, told WAMU, according to The Hill, “Conceivably, DC Water can shut off service for nonpayment to any customer. We don’t do it very often, it’s a last resort, we never want to do it. Obviously, for things like the General Services Administration for the federal government it’s a slightly different process, because we know they’re good for the money, it’s just a question of when it’s actually going to be transferred.” DC Water did not indicate if the federal government would be racking up late charges or other fees for being delinquent. Federal employees who are without a paycheck probably will face late fees for bills they cannot pay, however.