Utility Service Partners, Inc.

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Why does the NLC Service Line Warranty Program partner with cities? One word: TRUST!

Jim Hunt

One of the questions that seems to come up in discussions with cities concerning the National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program, administered by Utility Service Partners, Inc., is “Why does the city have to enter a partnership and use the city logos?” I always answer this question with the word TRUST. Residents are constantly getting barraged with offers of services and products that seem to be associated with the city or some other trusted provider in the community.

Sadly, many people get deceived into thinking they are buying some ‘required’ service or product. When this happens, it hurts the resident, and when they reach out to the city for help, they are hit with the reality that they were scammed. In my community, unscrupulous operators would approach senior citizens, telling them that the city was requiring that all driveways needed to be paved and that they could do it to avoid the resident getting fined. After having some doubts with the excessive prices they were charged, they learned that the contractors were not recognized or licensed and were nowhere to be found.

The reason that the National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program partners with the city and uses the city logo on mailings is to give consumers peace of mind in knowing that they are dealing with a reputable company. The city has reviewed the offer to ensure that what is being offered to the consumer is legitimate. Since water and sewer service lines connect directly to the city’s lines, it is in the best interest of the city to ensure that repairs are done to all code requirements and that the system operates as it was designed. It is also important that contractors working on these lines operate with the highest levels of trust and integrity. A fly-by-night contractor can do damage to the system and be gone without a trace, leaving the customer with an expensive repair.

Before the Internet, most services were done locally and you would have trust in a business by seeing the city business license hanging on the wall. You knew when you saw the city logo on that license that the city had inspected the premises and knew the owners could provide some help in the event you were taken advantage of. Businesses feared losing their business license because it meant that they could no longer do business in the city. Sadly, this is no longer true. Disreputable businesses can contact citizens directly and the city has no knowledge of or contact with these businesses and is powerless to help citizens in need.

That is why the National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program is proud to associate with its partner cities. It is also why the National League of Cities sought out a company like Utility Service Partners with a stellar Better Business Bureau rating and a record of ethical business practices. When a customer has a problem with a water or sewer service line, they should know that the repair will be done professionally and that the city will have inspected and approved the repairs through its code enforcement division. They will also know that the contractor will be fully licensed and insured and will be there if there is a problem.

The National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program is built on trust and we are proud to be associated with the cities who have chosen to partner with this valuable program.

Jim Hunt is an Advisor with the National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program. He is also the founder of Amazing Cities, an organization dedicated to excellence and leadership in government. Mr. Hunt writes, speaks and consults on issues that affect local government. He served for 27 years in public office and was President of the National League of Cities in 2006.

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4 Reasons to Partner with Utility Service Partners

handshake#1 – Failing Infrastructure

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently gave a D (D = Poor) rating to America’s water and wastewater public infrastructure. Homeowners’ water and sewer lines are subjected to the same conditions as the lines that make up the public infrastructure – age, root invasion, ground shifting, fluctuating temperatures and more. While government is addressing the public infrastructure, homeowners are responsible for the cost of repairs to the service lines located on their properties. These repairs can cost between $1,300 to upwards of $3,500, which can be hard on a family budget. With a warranty, the homeowner is covered for the repair costs to repair or replace water and sewer lines that have failed due to normal wear and tear.

#2 – Emergency Repairs are Expensive 

A recent study by the Federal Reserve suggested that more than 50% of individuals surveyed could not afford a hypothetical emergency expense of $400 without selling belongings or borrowing money. Homeowners work hard for their money and it’s no secret that the expense of owning a home adds up over time. In fact, the study by the Federal Reserve also revealed that “more than a third of all respondents said they were worse off financially than five years ago.” With credit hard to come by and many of those eligible for retirement unprepared, expensive repairs are just not in the budget.

When evaluating monthly expenses, such as a water or sewer line warranty program, it’s important for a homeowner to consider what they have in savings and what they can honestly spend each month for protection. For homeowners with limited resources, a few dollars a month to provide peace of mind could outweigh the risk of “if” a failure would ever occur, considering just over half of the survey respondents were putting some portion of their income away in savings and only 39% said they had a rainy day fund.

#3 – Finding a Contractor Can Be Difficult

It can be difficult to find a contractor you can trust to do the job right the first time. According to Rob and Rodman, “There are lots of folks who call themselves contractors, but many of those that do aren’t going to make you happy so brace yourself for an ordeal. Don’t for one second think that someone who arrives well dressed in a nice truck has a clue. They may simply have an MBA, know how the money works, and have enough sense to look like what passes as a contractor.”

Lifehacker.com suggests, “You can’t cut corners here—there are plenty of bad handymen out there willing to do shoddy work and charge you a ton of money, and they give the good ones who are eager for your business a bad name.” With a service line warranty, the vetting has been done, so you know that the contractor sent to make the repair has proper licenses and insurance and is located within the area.

The National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program only uses contractors that successfully pass a rigorous background check, maintain proper licensing and insurance, and as the warranty program representative, are committed to providing exceptional customer service.

#4 – Water Conservation and Ground Pollution Prevention

Homeowners with a service line warranty are more likely to report a problem and have it fixed quickly, which helps with water conservation efforts and prevents ground pollution.

With Utility Service Partners, Inc., you can bring our Service Line Warranty Program to your residents at no cost to you! Learn more about the program! Contact 866-974-4801 or email partnerships@utilitysp.net.

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Building Sponge Cities

This is a final file ready for placement.By Cathy Spain

When it rains, stormwater runoff is captured in city storm sewers and eventually empties into rivers, ports and other waterways. Communities use many strategies to prevent, control and treat stormwater. These strategies include reducing impervious surfaces on driveways and sidewalks and creating drought-resistant landscapes to hold and filter water.

The objective is to get the land to act like a sponge and soak up the rainwater and return it to the ground rather than divert it to a sewer. Limiting the flow of stormwater reduces the amount of polluted runoff reaching waterways and prevents treatment facilities from being overwhelmed by combined sewer overflows.

Now urban designers are looking at ways to design and build cities like sponges for another reason – to capture water to counter drought conditions. A recent Morning Edition report on National Public Radio (NPR) reported on efforts to respond to water scarcity in Los Angeles by capturing rainwater and turning it into water for drinking and irrigation.

Woodbury University’s Arid Lands Institute (ALI) is helping developers in the city find the best spots for water to percolate into the ground. An experimental project in one neighborhood is placing bioswales along sidewalks. These are gullies filled with drought-resistant plants. Water collects in the bioswales and filters down into cisterns that are buried below the street. According to ALI, an education, research and outreach center dedicated to design innovation in water-stressed environments, in an average rain year, a city block puts enough water into the ground for approximately 30 families for a year.

Another consideration is the design of roofs. The peaked roof is practical in areas where snow falls. Experts are suggesting that roof designs in arid areas should have a wide mouth that is open to the sky and built to catch rain.

Desert cities may be the first “sponge” cities, but others are likely to follow. The Natural Resource Defense Council’s Climate Change, Water, and Risk report found that 1,100 U.S. counties – one-third of all counties in the lower 48 states – will face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century due to climate change.

Cathy Spain is a National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program Advisor and President of The Spain Group. She works with private companies and nonprofits to design, analyze and promote local government programs. She’s held senior management, research and lobbying positions at the National League of Cities, Government Finance Officers Association, Public Risk Database Project and the New York State Assembly.