Philadelphians to be offered new coverage option for water, sewer lines

Pat Loeb
October 30, 2018 - 2:17 pm
A water main manhole cover on pavement.

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Over the next two days, every Philadelphia water customer will be receiving a postcard about a new insurance option that will cover the pipes between their homes and the water department mains. 

City officials are fully behind the effort, which was spearheaded by Councilman Derek Green to get American Water Resources to provide the coverage in Philadelphia. He said those service lines are vulnerable.

"We have a very old or seasoned city, as my father would say, so we have a number of homes that are very old, so these water line issues can become a major problem," he said.

Up until now, the city offered the Homeowner's Emergency Loan Program (HELP) for homeowners when those lines broke, but Emily Schapira of the Philadelphia Energy Authority said coverage is better.

"It provides unlimited protection for repair or replacement of leaky or broken water and sewer service lines for an affordable monthly fee," she explained.

Most utilities cover service lines right up to your house, but not the Philadelphia Water Department, which is something Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown thinks too few Philadelphians know.

"Too many of our Philadelphia homeowners are not aware that they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of water and sewage lines," she added.

Councilman Brian O'Neill is also an enthusiastic supporter.

"I don't want to just send letters, I want to be the first person to sign up in my district because no one should not be doing this," he said.

Schapira noted the city is using group buying power to keep the fees at $8 a month. She said homeowners who have already received a notice of defect in the lines from the Philadelphia Water Department will not be eligible, and the company won't cover natural disasters such as flood-caused damage. 

Long-time consumer advocate Lance Haver said it would be better for customers if the Philadelphia Water Department took on responsibility for those lines and developed a citywide plan to address weaknesses in them.