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Are Your Customers’ Flushes Covered?

Cover Your Flush Update Helps Water and Sanitation Districts Communicate

For water and sanitation districts, sewer backups remain one of the worst scenarios that can happen to a customer’s property. Aside from the laborious clean-up efforts, many times, people are confused about how it happened and who is responsible for the damages. That confusion is understandable but can be clarified.

The challenge facing districts lies in providing the correct information to constituents before an incident like this occurs. Although these events do not happen often, they appear catastrophic when they do. The good news is we have simplified your role in this process by providing districts with information for constituents, including all they need to know about managing a sewer backup.

Communication with Constituents

The Cover Your Flush campaign is specifically designed for water and sanitation districts to use to educate customers. It covers the prevention of sewer back-ups, what to do during a sewer backup, and how to determine who is responsible. We recommend sending this communication with bills every 3-5 years as well as posting it on your district’s website.

This information gives your customers the answers to all the difficult questions that come up with a sewer backup. Since homeowners may be responsible for a sewer backup, providing this information to them before an incident happens is critical. In conjunction with our Sewer Response Best Practices designed for district staff, our resources can make a big difference in your coordinated response at the time of an event.

As we mentioned, responsibility can fall to either the district or the homeowner, but that depends on where the backup occurred and if the district is compliant with Sewer System Maintenance Best Practices. The homeowner is responsible for all the pipes that run through their home and all of the service lines that run from their home into the mainline.

Cover Your Flush shows homeowners the common causes of a sewer drain backup and details exactly for what they can expect to be responsible. It provides simple steps on how to contain the damage and start the recovery process as well as how to prevent this from occurring again. It also talks about what utility providers are doing to prevent backups as well as where homeowners can go in order to explore their insurance options to cover this kind of event. Many homeowners do not purchase sewer backup coverage, which costs $40 to $160 annually, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

What are the benefits?

A handful of members are already hosting the Cover Your Flush brochure and related information on their website. This information is available to the public, and districts can easily direct constituents to this resource. We spoke with representatives from both Clifton Sanitation and Security Water and Sanitation Districts to obtain feedback about how this program has helped them.

“I would recommend the program to other agencies that have a history of sewer backups. I think the program provides a very good report and service,” Brian Woods, District Manager of Clifton Sanitation, said.

It is true that you might need to notify homeowners about getting their own coverage for this matter. Often times, the case is that homeowners insurance excludes sewer backup, but your constituents might not be aware of that or think that the responsibility lies with the utility company or the city. In this case, as the brochure explains, they might need to ask for an endorsement from their homeowners insurance.

We offer this service for free to everyone—although the physical brochures are available for purchase at a low price. Some districts are using this service as a way to communicate with their constituents and mitigate any concerns after a backup occurs.

“We think the Cover Your Flush information is an important component of the educational materials that we provide to our customers,” Roy E. Heald, General Manager of Security Water and Sanitation, said. “I think information and education is an important part of the service we should be providing to our customers. Reducing sewer backups saves customers money, lessens property damage, and helps lower rates.”

Procedure

Although sewer backups may not turn out to be the fault of the district, it is important to have a standard operating procedure in place. Here are a few tips that can help you navigate this tricky situation while fault is still being investigated.

  • Determine the physical address of the affected property
  • Determine the extent of accumulated standing water
  • Suggest property owner contact their homeowner insurance provider
  • Immediately dispatch SERVPRO of Greater Boulder for standing water or sewer extraction
  • Districts should immediately notify the Pool
  • Once on scene, confirm source of water intrusion and document the scene
  • Do not admit fault

Takeaways

If you are interested in utilizing Cover Your Flush on your website or would like physical brochures for distribution, please visit coveryourflush.com/resources to order yours today.

We can tailor-make brochures for your district with your logo and contact information on it. Peace of mind comes from knowing what to do and who to contact before an incident occurs.

For more information regarding sewer backups, sign up for February’s webinar, “Sewer Backups: Responding to Reduce Your Liability,” presented by Adam Johnsen.  We will provide you with tips on communicating with homeowners, responding to a sewer backup, and show off our newly developed sewer backup Standard Operating Procedure.

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