Utility Service Partners, Inc.

Sharing industry news, best practices and program highlights from experts in the field.

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Is your state running out of water?

handwashFall has arrived in the US, but the summer drought still drags on for many areas of the nation – with a few states in danger of running out of water. High temperatures mixed with scarce rainfall has left millions of acres of land destroyed by wildfires. In addition to the wildfires, the devastation to farmlands in the affected areas has resulted in an estimated $900 million in crop and $350 million in dairy and livestock revenue lost. These losses are now being felt far beyond the drought-stricken states, with many seeing increased prices at the grocery stores and limited product availability.

While the California drought has been making headlines for quite some time, it isn’t the only state in danger of running out of usable water. There are currently eight states in dire need of precipitation according to a recent article on MSN Money and a few of them may surprise you.

  • Utah – Nearly 27% of Utah is experiencing severe drought, which has been the case for over three years. According to MSN, earlier this year the USDA designated seven Utah counties as primary natural disaster areas when the precipitation was just 47% of the yearly average.
  • Montana – Over 25% of Montana is experiencing severe or extreme drought this year. In July, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack declared 15 state counties natural disaster areas due to the ongoing drought. In addition to the lack of water, many pastures have been lost due to the wildfires that are common in drought conditions.
  • Idaho – Nearly half of the state is experiencing drought, affecting nearly 1.5 million residents. Drought conditions have increased the number of wildfires, several of which are currently burning in parts of the state, leading to evacuations.
  • Washington – The entire state of Washington is experiencing some level of drought, leaving natural resources strained within the state. In July, fishing was restricted in more than 60 rivers and streams in an effort to protect wildlife because of low water flows and high temperatures.

Check out the full list of states in danger at MSN Money.

Water shortage is a serious issue in much of the country, and whether you’ve had a wet summer or experienced a drought, water conservation is the key to sustaining one of our most precious resources. Encouraging your community to be proactive in protecting your water sources is essential. At the National League of Cities (NLC) Conference in November, we unveiled tools for our partner cities to help encourage water conservation. Learn more at http://www.utilitysp.net/slaweek/.

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The Value of Service

Jim HuntBy Jim Hunt, Advisor to the NLC Service Line Warranty Program

As I talk to hundreds of cities and city officials each year about the National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program, I never dreamed that I would learn, firsthand the value of this service. We talk about the inconvenience of a failed water or sewer line, but until you or someone you love experiences a failure, you have no idea what a problem it is.

My mother is 91 years old and lives with my brother, who is confined to a wheelchair. They live in an older home and we do our best to keep everything in working order. Several weeks ago, my brother called and told me that the sink was draining slowly. I figured that it was simply stopped up and that I could fix it quickly with a small plastic ‘snake’ that I keep in my garage. After failing to clear it, we decided to call a plumber since it must be a bigger clog than normal. The plumber stopped by and gave my mother and brother the bad news. The line had broken somewhere in the yard!

My mother called me and was in tears. They told her that it would be over two weeks before they could fix it and that there was no way to estimate the cost. While the cost was of concern to her, the more pressing problem was waiting for the repair. My brother is a quadriplegic and cannot be cared for out of the house unless he is admitted to the hospital. I rushed over to my mother’s house and everyone was in a panic.

I reminded my mother that she had signed up for the NLC Service Line Warranty Program when the city had joined the program in 2007. I called the toll-free number and reported the claim. Within an hour, we received a call that a contractor was on the way to assess the problem and shortly thereafter a van pulled up in the driveway. They used a camera and found the break. It was in the yard and a large piece of the line had broken, creating a clog. It was pouring down rain and getting dark, so the workmen cleared the clogged area and assured us that they would be digging it up in the morning. The next morning, the utility companies and the city had marked the lines and the contractor was getting ready to start digging.

A large backhoe arrived and they had to remove a section of the chain link fence in order to get it in the yard. My mother and brother watched intently from the porch and I reassured them that this work was covered by the NLC Service Line Warranty Program, which seemed to make them feel better.

After several hours and a lot of digging, the repairs were complete and the contractor reattached the fence and restored the area. All during this period, we received several calls from Utility Service Partners, the provider of the NLC Service Line Warranty Program, to make sure the repairs were going smoothly and that my mother and brother were okay.

It is one thing to tell people how the NLC Service Line Warranty Program works, but it is even better to see it in action! The care and concern by everyone involved was touching and knowing that they are there in the future gives me peace of mind that my loved ones are protected.

This story, like many others, is the service your homeowners will receive with the NLC Service Line Warranty Program. If you’re attending the National League of Cities Congress of Cities Conference this week, please stop by the NLC Pavilion and visit with Utility Service Partners, Inc. to learn how to bring this program to your community and make sure your residents have peace of mind. Not going to the show? Contact Utility Service Partners, Inc. at 866-974-4801 or partnerships@utilitysp.net to learn more.