Hundreds of people who've received large water bills which they cannot pay have been referred to the United Planning Organization at 1021 14th St. NW for assistance.

Using funds from a Community Services Administration and HEW grant, UPO can provide grants up to $700 for persons who meet the low-income guidelines. These range from $4,738 for one person to $12,363 for a family of six, with approximately $1,200 added for each additional family member.

"It's been a mess," Theresa Jones, director of UPO's utility bill subsidy program, said. "We have hundreds of people calling about these bills. sMany of them need assistance, but just as many of them call because they're confused.

"You can't tell how long a period some of them are for or anything. I had one man with a bill of $3,124.28 for an 18-month period. This is one man in a single-family home. It's crazy. I can't imagine how his bill got that high."

Persons who still need assistance after receiving the maximum amount of UPO aid are referred to the D.C. Department of Human Services. There, according to Reginald Lewis, chief of operations for the income maintenance administration, help is available for those who meet the department's guidelines.

Basically, the guidelines are that a person have no other means of making payment, that a cutoff of services is imminent, and that any other attempt to pay the bill would produce an undue hardship. For others, Lewis said, "I would suggest they talk to the city first and see if something isn't wrong with the bill, and if not, make some arrangement to pay it. Everybody has bills."