Utility Service Partners, Inc.

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


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Parks Serve as Beneficial Infrastructure for Many Cities

When you think essential infrastructure, you may not think about parks or playgrounds, but providing residents a place for recreation garners socioeconomic benefits, and parks designed for mixed use also can be used in water management and transportation.

A park will increase adjacent properties’ value by 15 to 20 percent, and businesses cite the presence of a robust park system as one of the top three reasons to relocate to a community. While parks generate revenue with user fees, they also generate indirect revenue through hosting special and sporting events – America’s local parks generate $154 billion in economic activity.

Parks, especially in urban settings, provide psychological restoration, lowering stress and mental fatigue and improving concentration, and surveys have shown that minor crimes, such as vandalism, graffiti and littering, are reduced near greenspaces.

Many cities are reclaiming industrial corridors, such as railways, and turning them into linear parks, including bike and walking paths – and residents are using them for transportation to work, school and shopping. Parks, both existing and new, can be part of a city’s green infrastructure by diverting storm water away from sewer systems and acting as a natural filter.

These aren’t the only exciting developments in park improvements – inclusive playgrounds, designed to be accessible to children with mobility, sensory and neurological issues have been gaining attention and support. An inclusive, or all-abilities, playground can include ramps, wider aisles, soft ground surfaces and accessible swings and merry-go-rounds for children with mobility difficulties. It also can include sensory games or musical equipment and safe, quiet spaces for children on the autism spectrum.

Whether through planning a new space or converting an existing space, envisioning parks as infrastructure addresses a variety of needs facing contemporary communities, including population density, environmentalism, health and accessibility.


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The NLC Service Line Warranty Program Helps a Young Couple with a Major Repair

Adam and Jennifer F. loved the first home they bought together, a historic 100 year old house in a quiet Wichita neighborhood – but they didn’t love the sewer line problems that came with it.

The couple bought the home knowing that the sewer line would need attention, and Adam and a friend rented equipment and spent hours cleaning out the line. The couple believed that would keep the problem from worsening until they were able to implement a more permeant fix.

However, within two years, the couple noticed they once again were experiencing drainage problems.

“I thought, ‘I just fixed that,’” Adam said. “I didn’t think it had been long enough to have another problem.”

But it was – one of the features of the backyard the couple loved was an enormous tree, easily as old as their home, but the sewer line passed beneath it. The tree’s roots sought out the warmth the line emitted, especially during the colder months. In addition, the line was an old clay pipe and offered little resistance to the encroaching roots.

To compound the problem, at some point between the house initially being built and Adam and Jennifer purchasing it, an outbuilding had been erected at the rear of the property, directly over the sewer line. The line would have to be replaced using an auger to dig beneath the outbuilding without damaging the foundation or completely re-routed to avoid the tree and the building.

The cost would be thousands of dollars – an expense the young couple simply could not afford. Fortunately, Adam had assisted a local church, and the pastor put him in contact with Sunflower Services.

Sunflower recommended replacing the clay pipe with sturdier, more resistant PVC and rerouting it to avoid the tree and outbuilding to prevent continuing root encroachment and make the line more accessible if it should ever need repair in the future. The problem was the $7,000 price tag, representing a significant portion of their annual income.

Sunflower Services employees knew just what to do and reached out to contacts at Utility Service Partners to see if the couple could have their job covered through the company’s charitable program. Utility Service Partners, a leading home warranty company providing plumbing and electrical warranties throughout the U.S. and Canada, agreed to cover the cost of the repair.

Utility Service Partners also offers low-cost water and sewer service line warranties through the National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program in partnership with municipalities and utilities. The program also has been endorsed by several state leagues, including the Kansas League of Cities.

As for Adam and Jennifer, everything is back to normal.

“It’s draining just fine now,” Adam said.