Rambling on Wastewater Pipes (Private Sewer Lateral Service Plan)

Update: Ok, so now It seems like you are being auto-enrolled, unless you tell them no. That’s terrible! I actually took the letter and tore it up, thinking it was junk mail. 

Update 2: For those wondering where Brady Risk came in, here is the link for the bid that our city issued [LINK]

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Don’t we all love talking about pipes that carry that crap? I know I do!

A lot of us are wondering what the deal is with this new Private Sewer Lateral Service Plan. Please note: This is regarding the sewer pipe (Sewer Lateral) that goes from your house/business to the street. I blogged about this back in January when the city passed the plan (see – SEWER INSPECTIONS AND POTENTIAL NEW COSTS FOR HOME BUYERS.) Many of the sewer pipes around the city need to be replaced or serviced. It seems like the city is basically ensuring that this responsibly is on the property owner.

Being that these pipes are on private property, are they wrong? Many feel this is unfair, but I kinda don’t (sorry, but I am open to hearing your opinions). I had to get my sewer lateral replaced right after Sandy and it did not cost me $10,000. In fact, it was less than a third of that. Granted, every situation is different, but for the most part we all have houses that are very close to the street, so don’t be afraid of that $10,000 price tag. If you are going to sell your house, just make sure you have that pipe checked out, serviced/and or replaced beforehand. This is what I wrote in my January 2014 article:

I had to replace my main because it was original from the 1950s. From what I understand, it was a type called Orangeburg. This pipe essentimgres-1ially crumbled and twisted; most of my waste was going into the ground on my property and not in the street sewer line. That’s not a good situation for me or anybody. It was very easy for roots to penetrate the pipe and it was unrepairable – you couldn’t just fix it with one of those liquid liners. There are some very old houses in Long Beach.  A lot of them are not kept up. Can you imagine what contaminants some of these houses are polluting our grounds with? [Seabythecity]

What is the deal with Brady Risk Environmental? I guess in a way to keep these costs down, the city is presenting us with the Private Sewer Lateral Service Plan, which is just that – a service plan for your sewer with monthly fees if you enroll. I am confused over this deal with Brady Risk and would love some clarification, but I am assuming you can still enroll in your own service plan of choice? Anybody? Anybody? 

Since I just had my sewer lateral replaced, I don’t plan on enrolling (I am keeping my receipt just in case). I’m no plumber, so I cannot tell you what to do, but I personally think your best bet is to call up a reputable plumber, one that has one of those pipe cameras to  see what condition your lateral pipe is in the first place. Do that before you do anything. They will show you the live video and some will even actually record the footage and burn it on DVD for you (a possibly LB Movie Night flick for the future?)

See the city info on this topic below:

Private Sewer Lateral Service Plan: In order to comply with a federal lawsuit that the City and many other municipalities are being faced with, the Long Beach City council passed a sewer lateral resolution on January 22, 2014. As a result of that resolution, Long Beach residents will be receiving a letter from Brady Risk Environmental announcing a new optional program that provides homeowners with protection if their private sewer laterals need to be serviced. Once in the program, you will be eligible to receive a sewer lateral inspection and repair at no additional cost other than the quarterly service plan fee thus avoiding costly repairs…[City of Long Beach]

Links:

Please read the terms of service before you comment.

comments

57 thoughts on “Rambling on Wastewater Pipes (Private Sewer Lateral Service Plan)”

  1. I received the letter from Brady yesterday, my problem with this plan is that it is opt-OUT not opt-IN. If you don’t respond to Brady within 30 days of the receiving the letter, they automatically start the service and it’s added to your water/sewage bill which comes from the city. IMHO, that is complete BS, who has the authority to start charging you for a service you did not request?

  2. it’s sad, because I received that letter too and automatically thought it was junk mail – like how attorneys send you letters for tax grievance. I tore it up and threw it in recycling. Guess I’m going to have to get some tape.

  3. Completely agree with you, it does NOT look like an official letter since it didn’t come from the City and I too assumed it was similar to the shady lawyer scams. I don’t know why I continued to read it, but I did and I’m glad I did so.

  4. Brady Risk Management Inc. is a financial Risk Management Firm specializing in the restaurant and hospitality industries and municipalities. The firm was incorporated in 1995 by Sean Brady whose background consists of financial and reinsurance disciplines. At the time, Mr. Brady recognized a number of opportunities within the restaurant and hospitality industries. His vision was to apply many of the same marketing, financial and reinsurance approaches that he had learned and developed while working for Merrill Lynch and Prudential Bache Capital markets, as well as Brady & Co., N.A., a managing general agency for AIG which he sold in 1995.

    Brady Risk Environmental
    For more information please call us at 1-800-926-7910

  5. I agree that opting people in by default is a bad idea.

    That’s an analog dark pattern if I ever saw one.

    What I don’t understand is this language:

    “””In order to comply with a federal lawsuit that the City and many other municipalities are being faced with, the Long Beach City council passed a sewer lateral resolution on January 22, 2014.”””

    Are they saying that the (threat of a?) lawsuit made them offer the program or the (thread of a?) lawsuit made them offer the program AS AN OPT-IN BY DEFAULT system?

    I was just robodialed on this myself.

    For those who think that the pipes connecting a building to the “main” (there’s probably a more accurate term of art) under the street is the city water company’s responsibility, what would you consider the demarcation point? Telcos, power companies, etc. all have clear policies on where the demarc is to avoid problems like this.

    For those who know more history, who paid to install these pipes in the first place?

  6. I’ve been railing about this since the City folded to an environmentalist lawsuit last year and dumped these costs on us. Since I maintain several properties, it was of special interest to me. I consider it to be just one more tax.

    Aside from my ranting, I’ll share some hard facts. The Clean Water Act requires a program for inspecting sewer laterals, which are the lines from their home to the sewer main owned by property users . Usually the “demarcation point” as Brian asks, is where the pipe joins the main in the center of the street. But this point is quite arbitrary. Some newer sewers have a cleanout at the curb and that would be the point. The law states that point is determined by the City. Good luck there.

    Sewer laterals have never been inspected. So in settling this lawsuit, the City wrote legislation saying the inside of each lateral must be photographed by a licensed plumber before you sell any property. The City (not a plumber or engineer) will determine if they will require you to replace or repair the lateral.

    Replacing a lateral costs $3,000 – $12,000.

    If fairness to the City, they found this Brady Risk outfit that agreed to take on virtually every water customer at $100/year in return for paying to fix anything broken.

    So a homeowner getting out of Dodge, if he has forked over $100/year won’t have to worry about the replacement cost if his sewer lateral is deemed to be defective.

    There’s much more to be said, and Anthony has said some of it. I hope this little discussion sheds some light.

  7. Just got off the phone with them – Brady Risk. Woman I spoke with was very nice. I only had a few minutes because I am at work and running into a meeting. But here is what I got: 1. Brady is in contract with the city for five years. 2. The City put out an RFP and Brady won the bid. 3. This applies to the lateral pipes underneath your home. 4. If a pipe is broken you call Brady, they send field guy and do inspection. 5. If broken they fix it. 6. I asked if inspection is covered and if they had a schedule of coverages/costs. She didn’t know off the top of her head. 7. I asked if I wanted to use a preferred/local plumber for the work, could I submit it as a claim for reimbursement – no, they only use their contracted field guys. 8. I asked if per the city resolution if I moved or was renovating my home, and I had the inspection and my lateral sewer line was deemed to need repair, would they cover that – she is having someone call me back – I will follow up once I hear back.

    And not sure if you noticed but in the T and C, it states that Enrollees whose sewer laterals are repaired by BRE they are required to maintain membership within the Program for a period of no less that sixty (60) months aka 5 years.

    I am going to check my homeowners policy this week, I just wish this sort of information was presented beforehand by the City, and it was an opt in , not opt out program.

  8. This may be a stupid question but how does this work if you are in a building/condo/co-op? I pay an individual water bill but I’m sure my pipes connect to someone else’s at some point before the street.

  9. If you are selling, they will do the inspection free and cover the repair according to their rep. You might have to pay them the $500 then.

    I am seeking a written “service plan” from them to outline all this, but nothing yet.

    Notice the same “environmentalists” worried that your sewer pipe joints may leak a little into the sand don’t care that every home in Point Lookout and dozens in Long Beach have cesspools that put all their sewerage into the sand. They don’t pay a dime to anyone.

  10. Thanks for all the info. And Brian, you wrote “For those who know more history, who paid to install these pipes in the first place?”, It’s usually the builder when they connect the house to the city sewer, that is why I do understand homeowner responsibility. I actually had my pipe replaced by Roto rooter (haha!) because they gave me a really good price with some type of warranty and were able to perform the work in a very timely manner. The installers told me how they unclog so many of these pipes in LB and the majority of them are completely busted and seeping into our ground – from tree roots, especially. They also did the camera for me and I saw what condition mine was in. The sewer pipe spelunking was certainly interesting, to say the least.

    As for Brady Risk deal, I am just learning this all here. so I appreciate the info you are all providing.

  11. Brady’s plan doesn’t cover you so you shouldn’t see a charge. The city can inspect your building’s lateral and require repairs that your board would have to finance. In reality that won’t happen, unless the main lateral collapses. Or if a dopey co-owner complains. Sounds like you’re off the hook.

  12. “If you are selling, they will do the inspection free and cover the repair according to their rep. You might have to pay them the $500 then.”

    I asked the rep I spoke to about this and she didn’t know, but is supposed to be calling me back. As we may elevate our home, I imagine we will run into a sewer inspection.

    Agree that a service plan should have been included in this mailing – along with a heads up from our City regarding this business partnership.

  13. According to the RFP that the City sent out – here is the minimum criteria Brady must offer. The rep I spoke to said they are in contract for five years.

    The City requires that the successful Proposer will offer, at the minimum, the following:

    1. A public education and outreach program, including brochures, meetings and informational packages, which will apprise City residents of Clean Water Act issues pertaining to sewer overflows, intrusion, exfiltration and all other aspects of the dangers of leaking and broken private sewer laterals, such as:
    a. Health hazards;
    b. Brown Tides;
    c. Excessive Nutrients;
    d. Contaminated aquifers and estuaries; and
    e. Sewage backups.
    2. Monitoring and testing of private sewer laterals with updates to the City and residents;
    3. 24 hour service call center;
    4. 24 hour service to repair leaking, broken and clogged private sewer laterals;
    5. The use of trenchless and no-dig repairs, including epoxy-based polyurethane-coated linings, high powered root cutters with herbicidal treatment and chemical grouting to prevent, if possible, damage to resident’s yards, plantings, sidewalks and driveways;
    6. Periodic and scheduled updates to the City regarding Clean Water Act amendments, legislation and other impacts to the City and its residents;
    7. Monthly communication with the City regarding repairs, statistics, reporting and other Clean Water Act requirements;
    8. Review and coordination of home sales certificates required for residents to sell their homes pursuant to pending legislation;
    9. A fair and reasonable cost for the program to be all-inclusive of service calls, repairs and testing including CCTV (closed circuit television) inspection;
    10. The ability to obtain a plumbing permit from the City immediately to open and close the repair;
    11. A licensed and bonded Master Plumber on-staff to supervise, make and certify the repair; and to submit and close a complete application and permit for the repair to the City;
    12. On-staff employees to perform all repairs without the need to sub-contract work; and
    13. Assist the City in identifying funds, grants and aid from federal and state agencies for repairs and upgrades to private and public sewer infrastructure needs.

  14. hmm good question. I am sure we did. The installers took care of everything when I signed the contract with them. I know they were required by law to mark where the gas lines were and they had to rip up one square of my sidewalk, but they replaced it.

  15. Not sure about Article 12 – “On-staff employees to perform all repairs without the need to sub-contract work…”

    I believe 100% of Brady’s plumbing work is being subcontracted to National Water Main Cleaning Co.

  16. I started some investigation of the company, it was formed in Nov of 2012, and its a subsidiary of Brady Risk Management. It does not appear that they have anything to do with sewer lines, etc, they are just collecting fees and will disperse the work to other companies when necessary. Neither company is listed on the BBB or has any ratings on any website, so there is no track records to find.

    FYI, Brady is an insurance company specializing in Restaurants, so the fact they are passing it off as a Service Plan is wrong. They are playing middle man… if you are interested, check with your homeowner’s insurance. I know I was offered it from Kingstone for $26 addition per year to my policy. Companies like Homeserve offer it for $9 per month or discounted for prepaying for a year. At least they are telling you exactly what is covered and how much.

    Much of my research also shows that they only started offering this service in May of this year. They do not seem to employ any plumbing staff, and as Eddie had stated, it does seem to be subcontracted through NWMCC as their images and text are copied from some the NJ NWMCC website. However, I did notice that NWMCC does not have a presence in Long Island so I am unsure how they can facilitate properly.

  17. The problem is that private insurance may not cover the City’s “finding” that your lateral is “not up to standard” when you decide to sell. That’s because Long Beach, unlike NYC and every other municipality I checked, doesn’t have a standard.

    They’ll look at the video of the pipe and decide if they like you or not. Are you a nice guy? Registered Democrat?

    Since they’re not plumbers or engineers they have no idea what they are looking at. Sure, you can fight them with your expert, but as the Chief Code Enforcer they have the authority. And the time for that fight isn’t when you have a contract to sell your house.

    Looks like the Long Beach property owner is being put over one more barrel. Another bad law. Another insider deal. Another fee, tax or whatever you want to call it.

  18. My homeowners agent told me my policy does not cover sewer lines. My lines are old and I don’t know the condition so this seems like an inexpensive way to avoid what looks like a big bill to fix the pipes.

  19. The city will determine if they will require you to replace or repair the lateral? Meaning residential city officials and their friends/family won’t have to pay?

  20. Maybe I’m missing something here. From reading the mailing they will inspect the pipes, not fix or replace pipes. There is no way they could replace pipes for the $500 they would charge over 5 years. If the numbers cited, $3K to $10K to replace pipes, this would be a very poor business model. I’m pretty sure just about everyone’s pipes could not pass inspection. Maybe I’m wrong, or misread the mailing.

  21. Here’s where Brady Risk Environmental failed in their due diligence of the bid winner of the RFP:

    “…The City seeks to procure the services of a proposing entity that will offer a private sewer lateral service plan as defined herein (the “Scope of Services”). The successful proposer will be expected to perform all of the services described above, including the following professional services:

    1. Development and implementation of a publicity and educational plan with marketing materials designed, developed and provided to the City and residents at the expense of the Proposer;…”

    Besides a junk mail opt-out letter I must have yet missed another memo.

  22. Another issue is that there is no information on if there is a deductible, when you qualify for an inspection, that the contract is just 5 years and they can collect.

    There are over 14,000 households (couldn’t find actual number of homes) in Long Beach, so if they collect from even half of the households at $100 per year that is $7 million per year or 35 million over the life of the contract. Furthermore, there are approx 300 homes sold per year in Long Beach, so if half of them require their laterals replaced at $6k each that’s $900,000 or $4.5 million over 5 years.

    There is no way to know how this would all work out, if its just a cash grab or what have you… until we know more facts.. which are lacking!

  23. Thanks. I received the letter but nowhere on it does it state any differences between buildings and single family homes. Wondering if I should opt out just to be sure.

  24. From what I have been told by Brady, the $100 fee covers ONLY your sewer lateral. That’s the pipe from your trap in the basement to the sewer main running down the middle of the street. They will unclog it if it gets clogged (provided its not clogged with a diaper or glove). If it collapses, they will “reline” it or dig it up and replace it. When it’s time to sell, they will inspect it, and repair it if it doesn’t meet the City’s secret criteria.

    Your homeowner’s policy doesn’t cover any of this.

    If any repair work is done, you are required to keep the plan for the next five years.

    Nope, there’s no written agreement that I can get and after five years they can pull out and you lost all your money. You bought a service plan and they are playing the odds that you won’t need service.

    And no, the City can’t knock on your door and inspect without some kind of cause, like sewerage bubbling out of your front lawn. It’s still America here.

  25. Oh embarrassing I didn’t double check the number of zeros before I wrote that post. So in fact, if its 3.5 million over the life of the contract and approx 300 homes sold per year in Long Beach, so if half of them require their laterals replaced at an average of $6k each that’s $900,000 or $4.5 million over 5 years.. then they could actually be LOSING money.

    Seems to me the only way this could work if the city added it to everyone’s taxes, and automatically included everyone, which I would NEVER be for. Their auto-enroll was just their way of trying to make this happen.

    Does anyone know with 100% certainty if it is even LEGAL to automatically opt a tax payer into a private contract?

  26. there must be some fine print here, requiring greater payments to them if something goes wrong (and makes it worth there while) or they figure they will have skipped town by the time their cost would catch up with what they are earning? There are no free lunches, so they are doing this because they can make money off of it. Nothing wrong with that, it’s our system. But I still think that the whole thing is very unclear…..

  27. “Does anyone know with 100% certainty if it is even LEGAL to automatically opt a tax payer into a private contract?”

    That is my question too … I just don’t get that piece of it.

  28. There are probably less than a dozen laterals replaced each year. Nobody replaces them unless they collapse and can’t be cleaned. Relining is far less costly (and less reliable) than replacement.

    If the City and/or Brady is the sole judge of what must be relined/replaced, the only one requiring work will be the ones that collapse or those without service plans or those who are political foes without service plans.

    This is a windfall for Brady.

    If it’s not, they’ll just walk away.

    If they get too many clogged sewers, they’ll just take three days to get to you and you’ll hire a plumber.

    It’s a win/win for everybody as long as Brady is around and you don’t mind paying $100 to “insure” that the City won’t bother you.

    Sort of like paying the Mob for protection.

  29. The risk of opt-ing out is too great, especially if your house is old and you have plans to get out of Long Beach within 5 years. That’s just the truth of it – the City has everyone snookered with this one, and when Brady walks away when repair claims exceed their premium take rate, you’ll end of paying out of pocket anyway to repair your sewer, and you won’t be able to sue Brady in bankruptcy to collect a dime. And the City will then just roll in another insurer, and by then the premium will be $500 a year instead of $100. And you know what – the same crew will still be re-elected in a landslide. That yearly calendar we all get for free is so pretty don’t you know.

  30. The Westholme Civic Association reached out to Brady Risk management to see if they could come and address some of the concerns our members have raised at the next meeting of the Westholme Civic Association. I spoke with Sean Brady who told us , yes they are willing to speak at our next meeting. He also told us that new letters on City letterhead and envelopes will be going out in early September and that the “opting” period has been extended to 60 days and the program starts in 90 days after that.

    We will forward information when we finalize the date of our next meeting.

  31. This program was mentioned at a City Council meeting several months ago but no questions were addressed. They said more info would be forthcoming. I think we should all go to the next City Council meeting and ask questions. I called Brady and spoke to a very nice man named Ryan. He said they’ve been in business for 4 years and have similar clients in Utica and New Hampshire. He said that the homeowner has always been responsible for the laterals as “by law you can’t use taxpayer money to pay for private property.” They will be using master plumbers from Alcus Heating in Hempstead and from Jane E Plumbing in Massapequa. He said no homeowner’s policy would cover this. He said that the inspection and any needed repair or replacement would be covered by the $100 fee. This program sounds fantastic as our pipes are old and probably damaged. But the skeptic in me wonders how I can pay $100 (or 5 years $500) and get such expensive work done. I think there will be a lot of need of repair. Like I said, come to the City Council meeting and let’s hear about it. (On another skeptical note I wonder if Mr. Z has anything to do with Brady…)

  32. The only time anyone will call Brady is when their sewer clogs or when they need a pre-sale inspection.

    A clogged sewer is snaked for $150. If a pre-sale inspection reveals a collapsed pipe, it will be RELINED. Relining is a crappy cheap way to make a repair. It will cost Brady perhaps $800.

    Cast iron laterals last forever.

    Clay laterals get roots growing through the joints which sometimes break them.

    Orangeberg laterals, which were common in the 1950’s and 60’s are essentially tar paper toilet paper rolls. They fall apart.

    Since Brady is the judge of what must be repaired and how, do you really think they will be spending much money?

  33. If you look at the EPA website cast iron pipes last 50 years. When they leak there is raw sewage going into the groundwater. If we fix the lines in the street then the lines in our homes also need to be fixed. It would be nice to help clean up Reynolds Channel for the future

  34. Jen, talk to the 1800 homes on this island with cesspools which dump every drop of their sewerage into the ground before you talk to me about my 1-piant/day leak. Then see what NYC is doing about 3,500,000 cast iron sewer laterals that are over 150 years old and don’t leak.

    And “raw sewerage” doesn’t “go into the ground water”. It’s filtered through 1800 feet of clay and sand over 10,000 years.

    Educate yourself, Jen, before you pontificate.

  35. eddie, you seem like a smart guy on point, in your opinion if you are in a 1924 west end 30 by 60 home home would you use Brady?

    I love LB and will not move while my kids are still in school they are 6 and 8?

    Thanks,

    Jimmy

  36. I want my kids to swim in clean water and to enjoy the water that keeps me in Long Beach. If the sewer lines are leaking they need to be fixed. If my pipe leaks I want to get it fixed.

  37. This is a scam- don’t opt in- the City will not get enough money and the insurance company will pull out. Our sewer services are being over run by the trmendous hordes of illegal aliens in illegal housing. Just the same way they over run the school district. DO NOT ALLOW ANY ONE ONTO YOURPROPERTY TO DO AN INSPECTION. IT IS ILLEGAL FOR THEM TO GO ONTO YOUR PROPERTY AND TRY AN INSPECTION UNLESS YOU SAY YES= SAY NO

  38. Jimmy, it depends on if you are the kind of guy who insures his Walmart toaster. Since you are not selling any time soon, you don’t have to worry about an inspection until you sell.

    Do you know the condition of your sewer? If it clogs often, you have problems and the “service plan” would be a good deal for you. If it never clogged, I would roll the dice — wait until the year I contemplated selling and opt-in for that year.

    It’s unlikely that the thing would collapse without giving you warning.

    You made it this far with no problems. What’s your tolerance for risk and could you afford a repair in the unlikely event you needed one?

  39. well, shoot. to think i just read through all 52 comments when all the knowledge i needed was right here in number 52 itself. my hero, you are, oh seymour.

  40. I’m still waiting to see a copy of the Terms & Agreement for this Service Plan. New York State Law requires Service Plan funds to be insured and the subscribers to be informed of this insurance line. Otherwise the vender could just skip town with the money

    Can’t get an answer on Brady Risk’s insurer.

    There are other options. Here’s the HomeServ agreement that costs $8.99/month. In some towns, local government subsidizes the pan and it’s available for $4.99. If you look over the terms, you can get an idea of the questions you should get answered, in writing by Brady:

    http://www.homeserveusa.com/uploads/products/term_condition_pdf/HJ_TC_02.10_p0_a25.pdf

  41. Eddie, rainwater moves the high nitrogen waste into surface water such as Reynolds Channel. Water does’t just percolate vertically down, especially in our saturated sandy bit of land, but seeps along horizontally. Also, storm water enters the sanitary system through the broken pipes, increasing the load on treatment plants.
    I do agree that cesspools are a bigger problem though, and should be on the table for fixing. Point Lookout, (not to mention most of Suffolk County)

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