BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York State's water shutoff moratorium, which has been in place since July 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to be extended, according to Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes.
"The economic uncertainties are still very real, we are able to see the light at the end of the tunnel of this pandemic, but we are not there yet," said Peoples-Stokes. "People are still are having issues and people still need to be supported, so it will need to be extended."
The water shutoff moratorium is currently set to expire on March 31st.
Discussions are underway to work out the details of this extension. Peoples-Stokes expects a formal announcement will be made this week.
It's unclear how long the extension will last.
"I would like if we could just extend it for the duration of the pandemic, but I'm not so sure it's going to go that far. Quite honestly I don't know when the end of the pandemic is," said Peoples-Stokes.
The water shutoff moratorium in Buffalo has already been extended to June 30th. The Buffalo Water Board made that decision, and also extended its Water Amnesty Program through June 30th. The program allows Buffalo residents who have faced financial hardship due to COVID-19 to enter into a 12-month deferred payment program for their water bill.
The Water Amnesty Program waives outstanding interest and penalties on past payments owing, but critics say the program does not go far enough to ensure customers know their legal rights to negotiate their payments down to whatever they can afford, for as long as it takes to pay off.
A spokesman for State Senator Sean Ryan told 7 Eyewitness News "the Water Board should proactively contact customers in the City of Buffalo to provide them with information about how this program works, and all of the options available."