Who should pay for frozen water pipes in Niagara Falls?

A Niagara Falls woman says she has been without water for more than a month, and wants water board officials to fix the frozen pipes causing the problem.

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Niagara Falls woman says she has been without water for more than a month, and wants water board officials to fix the frozen pipes causing the problem.

Susan Snow says she has been given two options: wait for the water line to thaw out in the spring, or spend an estimated $9,000 to excavate the ground and fix the pipe. But she says her neighbors are experiencing similar issues, and thinks the Niagara Falls Water Board should pay to fix a problem that is more widespread.

“This is my wash basin in my laundry area. No water coming out,” Snow said, demonstrating the problem. “It has been like this since January 6th.”

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, the dishes are piling up, because Snow can’t use her sink either. To get by, she needs to use alternatives.

“Five gallon jugs, two-and-a-half gallon jugs,” she said. “I’m using a laundromat instead of my washer and dryer.

“Other neighbors, some of them do not have water.”

Snow says even though the problem is that widespread, she’s being told she has to pay to excavate the ground from her 77th Street home to the corner, and fix the pipe.

Niagara Falls Water Board officials told News 4 they need more time to look into the case before getting back to us for this story. But they said in general, if the pipe is damaged between the home and the curb, it’s on the homeowner. If it’s damaged beyond the curb, it’s on the water board.

“This winter, the Niagara Falls Water Board has been diligent about looking into scenarios where water lines aren’t working properly and have been efficient in responding to any issues related to our equipment, frozen lines, water main breaks, or leaks,” board officials said through a statement. “Per standard protocol, whenever the NFWB receives a concern from a ratepayer, we proactively send out employees from both the water and meter departments to evaluate the cause of the interruption. This approach helps expedite our ability to solve the problem for the ratepayer and deliver good customer service. The NFWB has repaired, or is repairing, any lines that are our responsibility. We are not aware of the current status of those instances in which the end result has been the responsibility of the ratepayer.”

“It’s their water main,” Snow said. “It’s not mine. I didn’t install it or anything.”

In 2015, five blocks away from 77th Street, residents did not have to pay for a fix. Frozen pipes along 72nd Street plagued people through the winter for the second year in a row. The city decided to bury new pipes deeper into the ground.

“It’s definitely a bigger problem if it’s been going on and on and on for years,” said Snow. “How many times do people have to go through a winter with no water?”

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