Baltimore’s water department waits for revenue as customers wait for large bills after ransomware freezes system

Jul 17, 2019

Even though Baltimore’s public works department hasn’t issued water bills since a ransomware attack in May, director Rudy Chow said the agency has substantial reserves to cover its costs until it can charge customers for more than three months of service and start payments coming in again.

A spokesman for the Department of Public Works also said some vehicle purchases and other discretionary expenses have been postponed as part of a “cost containment” strategy.

Chow said Thursday that the agency has been able to pay its own bills on time.

“Using the cash reserve is part of the normal management and financial strategy we deploy,” Chow said. “We’re not in crisis. We are managing. Are we business as usual? No, we’re not business as usual.”

The ransomware attack locked up city systems May 7, and few of the utility’s 400,000 customers in the city and Baltimore County received bills for water and sewer service in April. Bills for May and June haven’t gone out.

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