What’s Right Washington Terrace City? Sewage in the Basement…Are You Kidding Me?

Frantic, a young couple went into their newly finished basement to confirm their worst suspicions, their basement was flooded with the smell and obvious debris of raw sewage. Not only did they not know how to stop the toilet from running backwards, their children unknowingly added to the deluge while they continued to flush and shower in the home above.

The flooding did stop when the flushing stopped, but not before much of the carpet and flooring were saturated and the homeowners had the certain feeling that this is going to be a bad day. Knowing only the basics, the young couple began to clean up the mess with towels, mops, and a dry vac. Unfortunately, the cleanup was too little, too late for the flooring; carpet and padding had to be removed and the hardwood floor began to buckle from the water damage. Their basement looked like a mini disaster area. Oh yes, it was a very bad day.

Not knowing what to do next, the young couple began the search for remedies to their predicament. Friends and neighbors quickly jumped in to help; one neighbor suggested they hire a rooter service to clear the pipes and see what caused the backup. It was no surprise to the responding plumber to learn that this backup was caused by a common issue, tree roots had grown through a crack in the lateral pipe line restricting the free flow that should have existed. Quite simply, roots were the “root of the problem.” This situation was simple to diagnose but not so simple to repair. The family bought some time by having their lateral cleaned; but that did not address the real issue, the costly replacement of their old sewer lateral.

The looming $8,000.00 cost to repair the sewer lateral stressed the family resources and relationship to the limit. The family searched any and all options to help cover the cost to make the lateral repair, to no avail. With the anxiety of an exhausted bank account, the family turned to their homeowner’s insurance, only to learn that sewer and water laterals are not covered under the standard homeowner’s plan. In desperation the family finally turned to the city to fund the lateral repairs, but discovered that sewer and water laterals running from the city main to the home are the homeowner’s responsibility. UGH!

Nearing their breaking-point, the family then called a local TV news crew to investigate, certain the city was negligent. The investigative reporter visited my office to ask some probing questions to determine fault. This same reporter quickly came to the conclusion that the city held no accountability for the damages to the basement or the repair of the sewer line as it is the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain their own laterals. With a friendly smile and an apology, the TV crew packed up their gear and headed back to Salt Lake, finding the city blameless-there was no story.

Fortunately, in the intervening time we found a way that may offer relief in these situations in the future. After careful research and evaluation, Washington Terrace City is now endorsing Service Line Warrantees of America (SLWA) to provide a service line insurance option to protect you in the event of similar situations. While standard homeowner’s insurance does not cover sewer or water laterals, SLWA offers a specialty insurance plan that specifically covers damage to lateral lines. SLWA is endorsed by the National League of Cities and Towns, Utah League of Cities and Towns and numerous other cities throughout the nation. I personally called several Utah cities that have endorsed SLWA. I found a clear consensus that the program has worked and is a viable solution to a very frustrating problem.

Sometime in January or February there will be a Service Line Warrantees of America mailing sent to you with our endorsement and city logo. To be clear, the city receives nothing in return for this endorsement; our intent is simply to introduce the option to you. This is an offer that you are free to accept or reject as you wish. If you elect to enlist in the program, you will contact SLWA directly in order to learn more about this service plan.

Your wellbeing is important to us. Every year at least a few families in our city will face a similar unfortunate situation. As a city, we truly care and we want you to have resources you need to protect you and your family. If this service is of interest to you, you may also visit our web page to find more information and a question and answer section that will help you understand our decision to endorse this insurance.

Any day that brings a flood or backup to your home is indeed a bad day, but when properly prepared you can rest assured that your sewer and water laterals are protected. Finding solutions to a messy situation…it’s what’s right with Washington Terrace City. For more information call SLWA at 844-257-8795 or go to www.slwofa.com for fast response.

 Tom Hanson: City Manager


Questions and Answers:

Does the City make any money on this program?

No.  There is no “kick-back” to the City.  In fact, they offered the City a commission and the city asked that the company reduce the price to the residents by the equivalent amount.  SLWA agreed.

Can I get my name removed from the mailing list?

Yes.  If you would like to be removed, a resident can call 1-844-257-8795. This number is listed on the back of the letter in the FAQs.

 How did they get my address?

SLWA used a third party to get the land records of properties in Washington Terrace, the same way other companies soliciting their services do.

 Is this fair to other warranty or insurance companies?

There are only a few companies in the Country that enter into these types of partnerships.  Local agents that we spoke with said that they were not able to enter into this type of a partnership.

The City went through a public notice process so that any company interested in this type of partnership could compete.  Ultimately, SLWA offered the lowest price, best coverage, extremely low claim-denial rates, and had extensive experience with this type of partnership.  SLWA currently have this same arrangement with 300+ other communities around North America.

This product does not negate any other company from marketing their service to residents.

 Are ALL housing units eligible for this service?

No.  This product does not cover sewer laterals or water lines that are shared by multiple units. If you do not live in a single-family home, please determine if your sewer lateral or water line is shared with other units before enrolling. If someone does enroll and is determined later to be ineligible, all premiums paid will be reimbursed to the homeowner.

 Do I pay the City directly for this service?

No.  If a homeowner chooses to get this service, they enter into an agreement directly with SLWA, not the City of Washington Terrace.

 Is my money staying local?

SLWA has created a list of local-area qualified contractors that complete all of the work.  Although the premiums are paid to an out-of-state company, the work is performed by companies that are in our community.

Should I call the city directly for more information?

No. For the best and most accurate information regarding the plan we would recommend calling SLWA directly.

 For more information call SLWA at 844-257-8795 or go to www.slwofa.com for fast response.