Niagara Falls Water Board responds to claims of overcharging

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB)- The Niagara Falls Water Board has responded to claims it’s charging people for water during months the pipers were frozen.

People living in the city said they were charged the $98 minimum usage fee during months they didn’t have water.

Spokesperson Brian Gould released a statement to News 4 that said, “those customers on the Frozen Water Service Assistance Program that have billing issues are reviewed on an individual basis.”

Gould told News 4 each person has to file a complaint on the Water Board’s website, or by calling the Water Board, or by stopping by its Buffalo Ave. location. He said only a handful of people have filed complaints.

Donald Phillips lives on 72nd Street and said he did get money back from the Water Board.

The Water Board provides a credit for people who are on the Frozen Water Service Assistance Program, or drip program, to offset the cost of running water constantly. Phillips told News 4 his bill for last winter did not include the credit.

“I went down to the Water Board and straightened it out,” said Phillips. “They took some of it off but I still wound up with a $220 bill.”

He told us he’s been dealing with frozen pipes for the last 40 years on the street but the past two years have really cost him.

“They say I’m responsible for the water lines from my house to the main, which is across the street,” said Phillips. “What can I do? Hire a construction company to tear up the street so I can get my line insulated?”

The Water Board and City of Niagara Falls are investigating the cause of the frozen pipes. Both hired engineering firms to test the ground.

News 4 asked for the findings of those preliminary tests through Freedom of Information Act requests. Neither the city nor the Water Board have released those documents to News 4 yet.

In June, the Water Board announced it would do eight additional tests over the course of several weeks.

Mayor Paul Dyster said he’s asked the Water Board for its results.

“He told me he thought it might be mid-August before the study was completed and I told him that I would like it done considerably faster than that,” said Dyster. “I would like to be talking about a remedial project by mid-August.”

The Water Board told News 4 it is waiting for it’s engineering firm’s final report. Spokesperson Brian Gould said tests wrapped up last week.

News 4 also reached out to the Niagara County Department of Health to see if this raises concerns about public health. We were told they are in contact with the Water Board to make sure a solution is quickly reached.

 

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