Utility Service Partners, Inc.

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A Message from Tom Rusin, CEO

The summer of 2016 brought many exciting changes to USP, program administrator for the National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program. In July, USP and HomeServe USA, a leading provider of home repair solutions serving over 2.7 million customers across the US and Canada, came together to form a home repair company with unmatched reach in the municipal and utility sector. The combined strength of our company brings the same commitment to outstanding service to the NLC Service Line Warranty Program that our city partners, and NLC, have come to know and expect. A commitment unparalleled in the industry.

Partnering with cities and utilities across North America, we are one of the largest providers of improvements to private, homeowner infrastructure, utilizing over 1,300 local contractors, saving our customers and your residents $300 million in repair expenses over the last three years. We service a customer every 82 seconds, including weekends and holidays, all while maintaining a customer satisfaction rating of over 95%.

Over the past few months, we have been thrilled to welcome more than 40 new partner cities, spanning 18 states, to the NLC Service Line Warranty Program. We are excited to have the opportunity to offer this important private infrastructure program to these new communities, helping municipal leaders bring peace of mind to their residents. In addition to our new partners, we continue to enjoy success providing service to our current partner cities and their residents. I invite you to check out some of the amazing program statistics noted below.

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As we look forward to the rest of 2016, we are preparing to welcome the National League of Cities City Summit to nearby Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is thrilling to have the City Summit so close to USP’s home and to be able to show off some of the unique and amazing things Pittsburgh has to offer. Stay tuned to your email and social media for some special event information coming soon. While at the Summit, we would love to have you stop by so we can say hello and thank you for your support. And if you are not yet a partner of the NLC Service Line Warranty Program, please stop by and give us the opportunity to speak with you personally about the many benefits of this important program.

I look forward to seeing you in Pittsburgh and continuing to serve you and your residents in 2016.

 

tom

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Rusin, CEO


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NLC 2016 CITY SUMMIT: WELCOME HOME

The National League of Cities 2016 City Summit will take place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from November 16th through November 19th. USP is excited to have the City Summit in our own backyard, and we are planning a very special event for our partners. Stop by our booth to learn more – and explore our three-dimensional display.

We look forward to seeing you all in Pittsburgh, the City of Champions!


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National League of Cities Service Line Program: Helping Municipal Infrastructure

The National League of Cities (NLC) Service Line Warranty Program helps residents of participating municipalities repair or replace thousands of water and sewer laterals every year. The program has helped more than 140,000 residents complete more than $90 million in repairs, one of the largest investments in private infrastructure in the nation. These repairs have helped to firm up municipal infrastructure and reduce the strain on water treatment facilities. The program is dedicated to helping protect the water systems that are vital to communities and continuing to educate both homeowners and municipal leaders on ways to improve sustainability.

Recently, the NLC Center for City Solutions and Applied Research released a report that discusses ways in which municipalities can help sustain our natural resources by reinforcing our nation’s infrastructure. The concept, known as Green Infrastructure, uses nature’s design and integrates the existing ecosystem into a city’s urban environment. The report states that the easiest and most effective means of easing the stress on conventional water drainage
systems is to reduce the volume of water that enters the system by increasing the permeable surface area, and allowing more water to be absorbed by soil and vegetation. The NLC offers five examples for achieving a Green Infrastructure. Here are two examples that can be easily implemented:

Rain Gardens 

A rain garden is a planted area in a shallow depression that receives stormwater runoff from an adjacent impervious surface such as a roof, driveway or parking lot. The rain garden prevents floods, reduces stress on the sewer system and may even conserve water resources by reducing the demand for irrigation. This green infrastructure option can be low-tech, inexpensive, sustainable and visually attractive.

A University of Washington study of four permeable parking lots found a 97 percent reduction in surface runoff compared with traditional concrete.” -NLC Municipal Action Guide, April 2011

Water Harvesting

Capturing rainwater to be used for irrigation projects saves potable water resources and consequently reduces the energy use, financial costs and emissions associated with transporting water to homes, businesses and industry. According to the U.S. EPA, outdoor irrigation accounts for nearly a third of residential water use nationwide, at more than 7 billion gallons per day. Solutions include collecting rainwater in rain barrels or cisterns where permissible and directing downspouts away from the sewer system and toward catchment areas.

Partners of the NLC Service Line Warranty Program Participate in Green Infrastructure Projects

Several of the NLC Program’s partner cities are featured in the NLC report. Kansas City, Missouri, a Program partner since 2013, launched the 100-acre Middle Blue River Basin Green Solutions Pilot Project, featuring 67 rain gardens and over 5,000 linear feet of permeable pavement and porous sidewalks. The project was the first federally approved Consent Decree to incorporate green solutions. As part of its educational goal, residents collaborated with various professionals and city representatives on the final plan. The initial results show both a reduced peak volume and flow at the outlet area. Kansas City will apply these lessons to further green installations for years to come. Project planners hope to see a decrease in overflow from 6.4 billion to 1.4 billion gallons per year.

In Program partner city Tucson, Arizona, a partner since 2014, where the average rainfall is only 12 inches per year, city officials have led the way in implementing water harvesting conservation strategies. In 2008, the city council adopted the nation’s first ordinance requiring rainwater harvesting at new commercial sites, requiring that commercial sites collect rainwater to meet 50 percent of landscape demand and specify a rainwater harvesting strategy. These efforts are further supported by residential outreach, including water efficiency guides and water harvesting rebate programs. The result is that Tucson’s average daily residential water
consumption (known as “per capita” water consumption—gallons per capita per day, or gpcd) is generally 90 gallons, well below the average rates in other parts of Arizona and the western United States.
In addition to green programs, these cities have introduced the NLC Service Line Warranty Program to their residents. With this optional protection, a resident who experiences a leak or break on their private service line can have the problem repaired easily, without the difficulty of having to locate a reputable plumber and the funds to cover the cost. When service line issues are repaired quickly, it can reduce the loss of potable water and stress on the municipal treatment facility. The program plays an important role in educating residents about their service line responsibilities, complementing public outreach efforts made by city officials.

During ServiceLine Awareness Week 2016, initiated by the NLC Service Line Warranty Program, a water conservation story and photo contest revealed that residents have already taken initiative with water harvesting. Residents shared stories and photos of their personal water conservation efforts. Check out their stories our Facebook page! 

By reducing the amount of water in our water systems, thereby reducing the amount of energy it takes to process that water, we can help to reduce our effects on the environment. To find out more ways to help your municipality achieve a Green Infrastructure, follow the link to the full report at www.utilitysp.net/green.

See what residents and city officials in Kansas City, Missouri and Tucson, Arizona have to say about the NLC Service Line Warranty Program by visiting www.utiltysp.net/learn.

Source: NLC Municipal Action Guide; Green Infrastructure: Using Nature to Solve Stormwater Challenges


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We Can Help Your Residents Repair Service Lines – And Help Your City in the Process. Here’s How.

CitiesSpeak

Many people believe that when their water or sewer service lines leak, break or clog, the repair is either the responsibility of the City or covered by their homeowner’s insurance. Unfortunately, neither is the case.

(Getty Images) Usually, it is the homeowner who is responsible for repairs to the water and sewer service lines located on their property – and they often call the City looking for help. (Getty Images)

Myths about the cause of service line failures are common. Many people believe that their service lines will never fail in their lifetime; however, reports indicate that the vast majority of the nation’s water pipes were installed after World War II and are in serious need of replacement or repair. In fact, a report from the National Association of Water Companies and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stated that nearly half of all pipes in the U.S. were in poor shape.

In…

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Flashback Friday: In-home Plumbing Tips

Plumbing systems are pretty simple – they use pressure and valves and you just have to keep them Plumbing suppliesdry and warm so problems don’t arise. Here are a few tips that can alert you to small problems in order to avoid bigger problems in the future.

Warning signs of a potential in-home plumbing problem:

  • damp cabinets
  • leaking or dripping faucets
  • wobbly toilets
  • leaking refrigerator, dishwasher or washing machine

What you can do to help preserve the integrity of your in-home plumbing:

  • To save yourself money and the plumber time, know where your home’s main water shut-off valve and sewer stack are located. (This also includes the valves for washing machines, icemakers, sinks and toilets. A stud sensor can also detect pipes and wiring to help you locate valves.)
  • Insulate exposed pipes in a crawl space or in the garage with plastic or foam insulation.
  • Apply insulating caps to outdoor fixtures.
  • If you plan on being away from home for a few days, open taps to a small trickle to prevent pipes from freezing.
  • For leaky shower heads, replace the washer.
  • Fit tub and shower drains with strainers to catch hair and clean them regularly.
  • Don’t use your toilet as a wastebasket.
  • If you have hard water, you probably have a build-up of mineral deposit on your shower head. Remove the build-up by putting one cup of distilled vinegar in a plastic bag, immerse the shower head in the vinegar, secure the bag to the shower head with a twist tie and let it soak overnight.
  • Check washer hoses for bulges and leaks as well as sediment build-up where the hose connects to the piping.
  • Ensure the water heater temperature is not set above 120°F, or “medium” for older water heater models.
  • Reduce water pressure and install water softener to expand the life expectancy of your in-home plumbing pipes. Normal pressure will register between 40 and 85 psi.

 

To find out how to help protect your residents in the event of an in-home plumbing emergency, visit www.utilitysp.net.


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Flashback Friday: Put Your Landscape on a Water Diet

When plants absorb sunlight to produce oxygenshutterstock_153692441 through photosynthesis, the water in their leavesevaporates, requiring the plant to pull water from the ground – which could be trouble for some plants in drought-prone areas.

During periods of extreme heat and drought, this process can use all of a plant’s water resources quickly. As a result, when the weather is hotter, a natural reaction when gardening is to water the plants. Unfortunately, too much of a good thing could be detrimental to the plants. If plants are overwatered during the hottest months, it could send mixed signals, encouraging growth at a time when the plant should be conserving resources. Sometimes it’s better to put your landscape on a strict water diet to ensure healthy plants and conserve water during the hottest months.

So what’s the right amount of water for your plants? That relies on several factors, including:

  • Climate
  • Types of plants
  • Current weather predictions

In order to keep your landscape on a strict diet and conserve water, here are a few simple tricks from the Environmental Protection Agency:

  • Select plants native to the climate, which will require less water since they are adapted to adjust with the seasons locally. Local nurseries can give you the best advice for native plants along with tips on how to properly care for them.
  • Water plants in the early morning or late evening and not during the hottest part of the day. Be sure to note the weather forecast so you don’t water in the morning only for it to rain later in the day.
  • Use mulch to help retain moisture in the soil.
  • Group plants with similar watering needs together, which will help not only conserve water, but concentrate your watering areas correctly.

When monitoring your plants, there are some tell-tale signs they need water:

  • Drooping leaves and stems
  • Flowers that lose their petals too soon
  • Plant coloration – look for a brownish color

These simple tips will help keep your landscape fit and trim this summer. Interested in learning more about photosynthesis? Check out these articles on How Stuff Works andEncylopedia.com. For more information on finding native plants in your area, check outFind Native Plants.


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Flashback Friday – Madison, Wisconsin

Today we travel to the capital of the State of Wisconsin. Named for the fourth President of250px-Wis-capitol the United States, James Madison, the City offers residents and visitors entertainment, adventure, and history. It features the Wisconsin State Capitol Building, modeled after the U.S. Capitol’s dome.

Once you have taken in the sites at the Capitol Building, make your way to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Open year round, the gardens span 16 acres of beautiful landscapes. Featuring multiple outdoor gardens, you can enjoy the roses in the Rose Garden, absorb the beauty of the Perennial Garden, and work up an appetite at the Herb Garden.

During the cold Wisconsin winters, make your way inside to the Bolz Conservatory. This 50-foot-high glass pyramid is a tropical oasis. Home to a waterfall, a diverse tropical plant collection, and free-flying birds, you will feel like you have just stepped out of a blizzard and into the tropics! Some of the more unique plant life is located in the Conservatory, where you can observe banana, vanilla, and coffee plants before getting up close and personal with a collection of carnivorous plants. Just don’t get too close!

After wandering through all of the gardens, you are sure to have worked up an appetite. Take a stroll back down to the Square at the State Capitol Building and check out the Dane County Farmers’ Market. Choose from a selection of meats, vegetables, and cheeses and a variety of baked goods. This year-round weekly market gives residents and visitors alike the chance to sample someof the best produce and products from local vendors. For those more interested in a festival atmosphere, Memorial Day weekend offers you the chance to attend the World’s Largest Brat Fest. The event provides a carnival-like atmosphere featuring games, Brat Festlive music, fireworks, and of course, Bratwurst. The event has donated more than $1.6 million to local charities and grows larger every year. This year’s event sold over 163,000 Brats alone! After you have taken care of your food cravings, you can explore the many museums around the City, where you can enjoy both classic and contemporary art.

There are many great sites to enjoy in Madison, but to see Madison from the best perspective, you should navigate toward the Brodhead Airport in Middleton, Wisconsin, where you will find Ted Davis, owner and pilot forBi-plane Biplane Rides of America. Mr. Davis offers local tours of the Madison area in his New Standard Model D-25 Biplane. Able to carry four passengers in the front seat with the pilot in the rear, you can take in the sights of the local area, or enjoy a tour of the Wisconsin rivers and Lake Wisconsin.

Enjoy the wind rushing through your hair, and then relax a little after your adventures in Madison.

For more information on things to do and see in Madison, visit www.visitmadison.com.

To find out how to partner with Utility Service Partners, and bring peace of mindto your residents, visit www.utilitysp.net.