Union plumbers provide help for Minnesota homeowners in need

The father-and-son team of Bruce and Brett Bernhjelm, members of St. Paul Plumbers Local 34, repay some “service” to two military veterans during Water’s Off 2012. The homeowner and his wife, both veterans, received some much needed plumbing help in their home, which had the hot and cold water reversed, sending hot water into their toilet. The problem was quickly taken care of by Brett Bernhjelm (right), also a military veteran. (submitted photo)urday each year, hundreds of Minnesota plumbers step up to improve the lives of members of their communities through the Water’s Off program. These union volunteers fix plumbing problems for elderly, disabled and low-income homeowners, reducing their water consumption and their water bills.

On one Saturday each year, hundreds of Minnesota plumbers step up to improve the lives of members of their communities through the Water’s Off program. These union volunteers fix plumbing problems for elderly, disabled and low-income homeowners, reducing their water consumption and their water bills.

The 2012 Water’s Off event March 31 drew a total of 149 volunteer plumbers. Together, they repaired plumbing problems in 110 homes, donating an estimated value of $73,500 in labor and materials.

“Each year these volunteer plumbers come out to help, and each year they help more and more people,” said Steve Pettersen, executive vice president of MMCA. “Our plumbers and contractors want to do the right thing and make life better for those less fortunate.”

Participating unions included St. Paul Plumbers Local 34, Minneapolis Plumbers Local 15 and Rochester Plumbers Local 6. Parts were donated by the Minnesota Mechanical Contractors Association (MMCA) and the Metro Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association.

Homeowners were pre-qualified with the help of local community human service organizations, including the Minneapolis Community Action Agency, Community Action for Suburban Hennepin and the Community Action Partnership of Ramsey & Washington Counties.

Water’s Off started in the Twin Cities in 1994 and is now a national volunteer program. Minnesota holds the largest Water’s Off in the nation.

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