Aging Canadian drinking water and wastewater infrastructure poses a range of challenges for water providers and their customers. According to the Canadian Infrastructure Report Card, a third of Canada’s water infrastructure is rated fair, poor, or very poor, and nearly 30% of water transmission lines are 50 years old or more, requiring over $20 billion to remediate. Additionally, there are an estimated 50,000 lead water service lines in use in Canada, and tests found elevated levels of lead exceeding safe limits in one-third of samples.
As water utilities contend with funding improvements to aging infrastructure, they are also struggling to support homeowners who face a significant financial burden when the lines connecting their private-side lines fail. Many homeowners are unaware of their responsibility for these lines, leading to uncomfortable conversations for utility employees when they must tell a customer that the problem is on their side and theirs to solve. In the latest Canadian State of the Home survey conducted by Service Line Warranties of Canada, 50% of respondents believe they are not responsible for water and sewer line issues on their property, 21% believe the water provider is responsible, and 94% expect to be educated about this responsibility by the utility. The survey also found that 25% of respondents have $500 or less set aside for an emergency repair, and that 40% of homeowners have trouble finding a contractor and have faced numerous problems related to job costs exceeding estimates, trustworthiness, and quality of work.
Service Line Warranties of Canada partners with water providers to offer optional protection plans to expedite and cover the cost of repair/replacement of private-side water and sewer lines and interior plumbing and drainage lines. The partnership includes homeowner education to clarify service line responsibility and understanding of how to solve issues though the municipality, and repairs are performed by a network of local, licensed plumbers, enhancing the local economy. Simply offering this solution to homeowners increases customer satisfaction and goodwill, and customer adoption of protection plans lifts CSAT further through the delivery of a white-glove service experience. The program also includes a revenue share to the municipality that can help fund public infrastructure upgrades and other important community initiatives.