Updated Information on Shutoff Moratorium

There is currently a moratorium on disconnections for all public water systems and municipal sewer systems. The moratorium was established by Act 92, Section 9, which was signed by the Governor on March 30, 2020. (See the text of Section 9 below.) This moratorium is in place until the end of the State of Emergency—currently December 15, but likely will continue to be extended.

This information is different than what was published in the current edition of NewsLeaks and we apologize. We spent several days researching this issue for the NewsLeaks article. We communicated with multiple agencies and organizations, and no one seemed to be aware that the shutoff moratorium went beyond the private water companies regulated by the Public Utilities Commission. We had been trying to find out why utility bill ratepayer assistance was not available to all water systems. The answer we received was that ratepayer assistance was only available to customers of utilities regulated by the Public Utilities Commission because only these utilities were subject to the shutoff moratorium, but this information was not correct. We continue to advocate that utility ratepayer arrearages be made available to customers of all public water and wastewater systems.

Act 92 (H.681) An act relating to government operations in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Sec. 9. TEMPORARY MORATORIUM ON DISCONNECTIONS FROM PUBLIC DRINKING WATER AND WASTEWATER SYSTEMS

(a) Notwithstanding 24 V.S.A. chapter 129, a municipality shall be prohibited from disconnecting a person from water or sewer services during a declared state of emergency under 20 V.S.A. chapter 1 due to COVID-19.

(b) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, a person who is permitted as a public water system pursuant to 10 V.S.A. chapter 56 and who provides another person water as a part of the operation of that public water system shall be prohibited from disconnecting any person from the public water system during a declared state of emergency under 20 V.S.A. chapter 1 due to COVID-19.

(c) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, a company engaged in the collecting, sale, and distribution of water for domestic, industrial, business, or fire protection purposes that is regulated by the Public Utility Commission under 30 V.S.A. § 203(3) shall be prohibited from disconnecting any person from services during a declared state of emergency under 20 V.S.A. chapter 1 due to COVID-19.

(d) A violation of subsection (a) or (b) of this section may be enforced by the Agency of Natural Resources pursuant to 10 V.S.A. chapter 201. A violation of subsection (c) of this section may be enforced by the Public Utility Commission under 30 V.S.A. § 30.