When Councilman Derek Green asked PEA to look at launching a Water and Sewer Line Protection Program back in 2018, we didn’t realize how big of an issue this can be for Philadelphia homeowners. Nearly everyone in Philly knows someone who had a catastrophic failure of a water or sewer line that cost thousands of dollars to fix, and too many of those homeowners and landlords didn’t realize they were responsible for the water and sewer lines running from their homes to the water main until a problem occurred.
Philadelphia has the oldest water infrastructure in the country, so most of those leaks, clogs or failures tend to be from normal wear and tear. Dealing with these issues can be an expensive headache for homeowners and landlords, and can result in all kinds of disruptive, unhealthy and unsafe conditions.
In addition to the challenges for homeowners and landlords, the Philadelphia Water Department also loses a significant percentage of pumped and treated water through leaky water service lines. This happens before the water meter, so it can be tough to find the leaks quickly, and so PWD is consuming a lot of energy to pump and treat water that is simply wasted. Accelerating the pace of repairing those leaks could save PWD hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in energy costs, which is a core part of PEA’s mission.
That’s why, in October 2018, PEA launched the Water and Sewer Service Line Protection Program, and selected American Water Resources (AWR) to administer it through a Public-Private Partnership (P3). AWR is based in Camden, NJ and has a strong track record of successfully running similar programs in cities across the country. They were selected through a competitive public procurement process, and of the respondents, their price to consumers was the lowest, with the best coverage.
For a monthly payment of $7.98, homeowners and landlords get unlimited coverage for the repair and replacement of both the water and sewer lines for issues caused by normal wear and tear, including clogs and blockages of sewer lines and freezing of water lines. The program provides homeowners and landlords of residential properties with low monthly program fees, timely repairs, high quality service and no dollar limit on covered claims. AWR has established a local contractor network with at least 60% of all claim services performed by minority, women and/or disabled business enterprises. Program enrollees will receive 24-hour support via a toll-free hotline dedicated to Philadelphia homeowners, and a one-year warranty on all covered repairs, with no forms to submit and no deductibles.
PEA rolled out the program with a press conference featuring Councilmembers Green, Parker, O’Neill, Squilla, and Domb, and Water Commissioner Debra McCarty, and a direct mailing campaign in partnership with all ten district Council offices to remind PWD customers that these service lines are their responsibility as well as to make them aware of this new low-cost program. We shared details on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Nextdoor), and both PEA and AWR have been providing community briefings citywide. We have scheduled or completed more than 20 events through March 2019 and are still scheduling events for the rest of the year.
Proceeds from the program help support PEA’s other energy efficiency and clean energy programs, including clean energy job training at the School District of Philadelphia, Solarize Philly, energy efficiency programs for small businesses and multi-family affordable housing, and much more.
- Total Customers Enrolled: 39,355 with 99% of them enrolling in both Water Line and Sewer Line Protection Programs.
- Total Customer Repair Savings: AWR has saved customers over $300k in repairs cost through January 31, 2019
- Claims by Program: 17% of claims were on customers’ Water Line, 83% were on customers’ sewer lines.
- Total Claims From NODs: Only 7% of all claims have had an NOD issued, the remainder of claims are customers who are noticing issues on their own and calling AWR for service.
- Claims Serviced by M/W/DBE: We are well over our 60% goal, at end of January 93% of claims have been serviced by M/W/DBE contractors.
To find out more about this program or to enroll in the Water Line and Sewer Line Protection Program call (844) 765-7260 or visit www.AWRUSA.com/Philadelphia.