South Park woman without plumbing for 3 weeks despite paying for protection program

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SOUTH PARK, Pa. (KDKA) — After three weeks of waiting for a sewer line repair job, a South Park mother called KDKA Investigates.

Mary Beth Rhodes says she can’t keep living without working toilets or sinks.

KDKA Investigator Meghan Schiller learned despite the fact she’s paying for a monthly pipe protection program, the job is still not done.

“We try to only use paper or plastic products,” said Rhodes.

This working mom isn’t doing it for the environment; she can’t use her sink. Every day she loads up a laundry basket with dirty dishes and walks it up the street to her neighbors’. It’s one thing, she said, to outsource the dirty dishes, but if she flushes a toilet, it winds up in the basement corner.

“This is the place where we noticed sewage coming out. We got the poo and pee fountain,” she said.

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(Photo: KDKA)

A break in her home’s sewer line is to blame, backing up sewage in the corner of the basement. Not a big problem, Rhodes said, because she pays monthly for American Water Resources’ (AWR) water and sewer line protection program.

“I felt confident. I felt really good. I was like ‘thank the Lord I have paid this policy for however long now,'” said Rhodes.

Fast forward three weeks later and she says there’s still no fix.

Rhodes tells KDKA-TV different plumbers, all approved and sent out by AWR, came out to investigate the problem. The paperwork shows they know where the break’s located and confirmed a plumber will need to dig, but AWR needs to approve any suggested plans for a fix.

“I expected it to take maybe a day or two, maybe three max because, all right, these people have things going on. But by no means did I think they would leave us over two weeks without plumbing,” said Rhodes.

KDKA Investigates learned American Water, Penn American Water’s parent company, sold its homeowner services group in 2021.

American Water Resources is now an independent third-party provider of these pipe protection programs. They pay money to American Water to license its name and branding.

Because of that, Rhodes’ water company, Penn American Water, is not involved and can’t step in or speed up her fix.

“You know, in my water bill, I’m not paying a separate bill. Everything is in there. I mean it’s itemized and says, ‘protection program’ or something. But everything I received when I signed up for this, I thought was coming from the water company,” said Rhodes.

Rhodes signed up for the AWR protection program two years before American Water sold off that part of the company. Rhodes doesn’t recall ever learning of the change.

After KDKA Investigates reached out to AWR, the company apologized for the delay and said it just approved the work to fix Rhodes’ sewer line.

“I can’t live in my house. If we went camping, we’d have an outhouse, a porta john or something — I got nothing.”

AWR sent this statement: 

Customer experience is a top priority for American Water Resources, a DBA Oncourse Home Solutions Company. We are committed to addressing issues that customers bring to our attention and ensuring they are resolved in a timely manner and to their satisfaction. We have looked into Mrs. Rhodes’ inquiry and can confirm American Water Resources received and approved Mrs. Rhodes’ revised proposal on September 12, 2023. Our team has been in contact with Mrs. Rhodes to confirm the acceptance and has apologized for any inconvenience during the resolution process. 

American Water Resources is a trademark of American Water and used under license, but is not owned by American Water. As such, AWR’s optional programs are not provided or guaranteed by American Water or its affiliates, and any changes in AWR’s prices are not determined or controlled by American Water or its affiliates.

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Meghan Schiller

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