On Saturday, March 26, union plumbers took time to provide free plumbing repairs and inspections to 25 senior, low-income and disabled homeowners in Minnesota as part of Water’s Off, a community service program that helps homeowners in need. The goal is not to just help others but to raise awareness about the importance of proper plumbing maintenance and repair, two things that help conserve water and save money on a homeowner’s utility bill.

Lots of water is lost through leaky faucets and toilets that don’t run efficiently. For example, according to the City of Saint Paul Regional Water Department, a bad flapper inside a toilet tank combined with a bad fill valve can run a homeowner an extra $307 a month. Got a bathtub that leaks? That’s another $75 a month.

“We do this for the community because we want to give back,” explained Dean Gale, Local 34 Business Manager whose local had 35 plumbers volunteer for the day. “We are fortunate to have the jobs we have and the skills we have. We are giving back to the people in our community who need our help.”

  Since the Water’s Off community service program started in 1991, union plumbers have donated more than 13,000 hours of skilled labor, with a value of $2,050,000.

Water’s Off is made possible by Saint Paul Plumbers Local 34 as well as two other unions (Minneapolis Plumbers Local 15 and Rochester Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 6) the Minnesota Mechanical Contractors Association, the Metro Plumbing Heating and Cooling Contractors and three Community Action Partnership agencies (Hennepin County, Ramsey and Washington Counties and Three Rivers) were involved as well.

“Giving back to our communities is one of our core union principles, so once we identified the problem, we knew we needed to help.” said David Ybarra, President of the Minnesota Pipe Trades Association, which represents more than 9,000 plumbers, pipefitters, and other skilled union tradesmen and women.