Utility Service Partners, Inc.

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

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USP’s Favorite Things

Utility Service Partners, Inc. (USP) has had a busy year. Here are a few of our favorite blog articles in 2015.

USP was proud to partner with the Southeast Energy Assistance Program in Atlanta to offer 40 water line and 40 sewer line warranties for free to qualified local homeowners.

Advisor Cathy Spain shares insight on how communities can build “Sponge Cities” to improve their stormwater systems.

No matter what City you represent, you all have one thing in common. You solve problems. At the National League of Cities Congress of Cities, our team met with numerous officials from around the nation to present a way they can help solve one problem in their community.

In April we celebrate Earth Day, but what is it really about? Learn more about the history and a few suggestions for celebration.

In May, USP officially expanded our product offering to include in-home plumbing after a successful pilot program. This additional service is a great asset for our community partners to bring more protection to homeowners.

Public-Private Partnerships are a hot topic in many cities. Learn why they are an important part of strengthening communities.

Some of our city partners elect for a royalty, which many use to fund specific programs, such as the KC Grow program in Kansas City, Missouri. Learn how revenue generated through our program helps improve the community.

As a partner with cities, USP is committed to brand stewardship. Learn how we take that commitment very seriously to protect your brand.

Why is our partnership the best? Learn what sets us apart from the competition.

We love hearing from happy customers. The O’Briens were one family out of the many customers our consumer brand, Service Line Warranties of America, helped this year.

We asked our customers and they answered. See what our customers said about their experience with our program.

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Make Every Drop Count

MP900433143Water conservation has been a major topic of discussion in 2015. Many parts of the nation are still facing severe drought, for some the worse in history. Yet, when we turn on the tap, water still flows. Many people take for granted just how limited our water resources are today.

In an effort to put water conservation at the forefront, the White House recently hosted a Roundtable discussion on Water Innovation. They have set a goal of reducing water usage by 33% across the nation. As pointed out in the discussions, a move to conserve water doesn’t just save water, but also the energy required to move and treat water. Major strides in technology can make this a realistic goal.

Encouraging the residents in your community to conserve water and to use energy-efficient products will have a positive effect on your economy. As Charles Fishman wrote in Fast Company, “The benefits of this reduction would cascade through the economy in surprising, often happy ways that you might not even consider. If your big commercial washing machines need less water, you heat less water to run them, which means you pay less for electricity. Less water, lower energy costs. Pumping water from around the U.S. economy is the largest single use of electricity in the county, so every farm, factory, university, power plant and skyscraper that found a way to cut water usage by a third would see a significant drop in its electricity bill – and its carbon emissions.”

The goal of 33% reduction in water usage isn’t going to happen overnight. It will take a long-term commitment to replace older appliances with energy-efficient models, educate the community on water-saving tips and embracing change.

Together, your community, along with communities around the nation, can conserve more water than individuals alone. Cities can share resources on water conservation and homeowner tips while keeping the goal of water use reduction at the forefront of their minds. We’ll share more information about water conservation and resources for your city during Service Line Awareness Week in March. Bookmark www.utilitysp.net/SLAweek for more information in the coming months.

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Investing in natural infrastructure brings more than financial benefits

CA_Sacramento_iStock_000013746622_LargeIt’s no secret that our infrastructure is experiencing more frequent problems from increased demand and extreme weather changes. By 2030, the world is going to spend an estimated $10 trillion on repairing and expanding infrastructure to address aging and demand, according to an estimate by McKinsey & Company.

While cities have earmarked funds to address the aging infrastructure, many are finding it hard to keep up with the demand of repairing pipes before problems arise. Today, a new trend is emerging for cities to utilize natural infrastructure to improve their water resources. Through the use of natural lands, working landscapes, soil and vegetation systems, some cities have built green and gray infrastructure that has helped improve overall infrastructure, water conservation and ground pollution.

Research shows that deep roots and multi-layered tree canopies of healthy forests are helping to purify water, regulate flow and storm water runoff and reduce the impact of flooding and droughts. These efforts might sound costly, but they are proving to reduce capital costs, lower maintenance costs and reduce treatment costs while also generating social and environmental benefits.

These natural efforts can’t fix the problem alone. When used in conjunction with engineered solutions, communities can protect and improve their ecosystems, reduce their carbon footprints, improve local economies and even save money.

A recent article from the World Resources Institute highlights cities that have embraced natural infrastructure with great results.

Philadelphia, PA

The City of Philadelphia was challenged with combined sewer overflows during storms. The city estimated the economic benefits associated from green infrastructure efforts would range from $1.94 billion to $4.45 billion, compared to just $0.06 billion to $0.14 billion from gray infrastructure, or the human-engineered solutions.

The city adopted the “Green City, Clean Waters” plan in 2011 to reduce storm water pollution through greening public spaces by creating a living landscape that slows, filters and consumes rainfall. When complete, the city estimates an 85% reduction in storm water and sewage pollution entering the waterways.

Medford, OR

More than 75,000 people reside in the City of Medford, which discharges wastewater into the Rouge River. When the discharge from the city exceeded the maximum temperature load requirements, the city had to find an alternative.

The city investigated lagoon storage for discharge later in the year, as well as mechanical chillers and restoring vegetation along the rivers and streams to provide shading along the river. An economic analysis found that restoring the vegetation was three times more cost-effective than mechanical chillers for reducing thermal loads into the river and would provide additional benefits to local wildlife and water filtration.

The city plans to work with 100 landowners through the “Freshwater Trust” to restore 30 miles of stream banks at a cost of $8 million; however, the natural approach was still $8 million cheaper than lagoon storage and $12 million less than installing mechanical chillers, which also emit greenhouse gases.

These are just two examples of what cities around the nation are doing. Check out how New York and São Paulo, Brazil, are utilizing natural infrastructure to improve their communities at http://www.wri.org/blog/2015/10/cities-can-save-money-investing-natural-infrastructure-water.