DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - The disconnection of water services during the pandemic will temporarily stop in Decatur following city council approval. 

The council approved an agenda item suspending water shut-offs under the authorization of the city's emergency powers. According to the Oct. 5 agenda packet, shut-off suspension will be for those who meet the federal CARES Act requirements for COVID-19 impact. 

The city said the suspension of termination will be until "such time as the city council ends the emergency order." Suspensions will be for accounts with payment due dates or payment shut-off dates on or after Oct. 6, and "upon determination of COVID-19 eligibility by the City of Decatur or its designated social service agency."

Using funds coming from the CARES Act, Decatur leaders approved $511,810 for Dove Inc. on Monday night. The organization helps people with rent, mortgage and utilities. Another $272,477 will help small businesses with rent and mortgage needs. 

Eligibility criteria for relief from water shut-offs will be the same as what the city is using for rent or other utility assistance - a move leaders said would help with the administration of relief programs. According to the city, Dove Inc. and Dove Financial Assistance (DFA) agreed to make the determination of eligibility for both the Decatur assistance funding program and no-water-shut-off relief. 

Decatur leaders elaborated on the timeline for water shut-off relief later on the packet. 

"Although not included in the council action, as a practical matter, if the City Council approves this action, staff will likely suspend all water shut-offs for a period of time sufficient to get this program up and running (two to three weeks), before resuming water shut-offs at properties that do not meet COVID eligibility," the agenda item said. 

The city said it is planning to put information in water billing statements letting customers know about eligibility requirements for COVID-19 impact relief and how to access it. 

The program is not waiving water fees, the city said. While eligible people won't have their statements due, fees would still compound and account statement balances will grow. Customers are encouraged to pay bills if they are able to. 

Decatur previously had a water shut-off relief program that expired on July 1. 

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