Council approves sanitary sewer, water service line protection program

Published 6:30 am Tuesday, March 1, 2022

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The Albert Lea City Council on Monday approved the city’s participation in a sanitary sewer and water service line protection program for residents.

Through the program, property owners will pay a monthly charge, and if the owner has a failed or leaking water or sewer line within their responsibility, the repair will be covered through the program. 

The plan covers residential water lines from the house to the curb and sewer lines from the house to the trunk main, with a maximum of $8,500 per occurrence per line, said City Manager Ian Rigg. There is an unlimited annual coverage limit.

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Property owners will be automatically included in the plan unless they opt out. The cost of the program is $5.50 per month, which covers some administrative costs for the city, and will be included on the city utility bill.

The city’s finance department will be in charge of adding and deleting customers.

“I think $5 a month is a small price to pay if you have something like this happen to you,” said 3rd Ward Councilor Jason Howland, who said he has received a lot of positive input in the community about the program. He referenced a similar situation that he was in at a former house and said it would have been helpful for him then.

Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr. said the council went with the opt-out program as opposed to an opt-in program because it was less than half the cost of the opt-in program.

Rigg said from his understanding, the program has a high retention rate.

He noted if someone opted out of the program and then later wanted to opt back in, they would be able to do so, but would have to wait a period of time before coverage starts again.

The contract, with Utility Service Partners Private Label Inc., doing business as Service Line Warranties of America, will be for a five-year period with annual automatic renewal.

The program is targeted to begin in July or August.

Rigg said the city will soon begin sending out more information to property owners about the program.

The program uses fully vetted local contractors to complete the repairs, and all repairs would need to meet state and local codes.

Check back for more about the council meeting.