Bluewater sends out more mailings, this time in DuluthA plumbing company that was barred from performing work on a Two Harbors water meter project after city leaders complained it was sending out misleading advertising is being questioned for a similar practice in Duluth.
By: Mike Creger, Lake County News Chronicle
A plumbing company that was barred from performing work on a Two Harbors water meter project after city leaders complained it was sending out misleading advertising is being questioned for a similar practice in Duluth.
Bluewater Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning recently sent mailers out to residents in the Duluth Heights and Piedmont Heights areas as the city prepares to bring a new water tower online.
Because of the new tank on Basswood Avenue, many homes in the area will see more pressure into homes that will require the installation of pressure-reducing valves. The city expects the new service to begin in the middle of May.
City utilities engineer Eric Shaffer said he has been exasperated with phone calls about the valves and that the Bluewater fliers are adding to that confusion.
Jean Manthey of Duluth is one recipient who said the mailing left her confused.
“I was wondering if I should be worried about it,” she told the News Tribune, explaining she called the managers of her townhome about it and was told the property manager would take care of any valve installations.
Duluth City Councilor Garry Krause said he also received a Bluewater mailing.
“You could be misled to think it’s something from the city,” he said. “It could be perceived that you had to get a hold of them.”
In March, Bluewater drew the ire of the Two Harbors City Council when residents there thought its mailing came from the city and that they were required to use Bluewater’s services. Two Harbors is requiring the installation of water meters as part of an ongoing water project. The city allows any licensed plumber to do the work after getting a permit, but because of the resident reaction, Two Harbors officials barred Bluewater from working on the project.
Both the Two Harbors mailing and the one sent to Duluth residents have an official feel to them. The front of the Duluth mailing says “City Of Duluth Water Pressure Change Information” and “Do not discard.” Similar words were found on the Two Harbors mailing.
Inside, the mailing quotes from the state plumbing code and makes a pitch for Bluewater, with a deadline of April 20 to get a certain installation price.
Bluewater has deferred questions about the mailings to its attorney, Tom Skare of Cloquet.
Skare told the News Tribune the events in Two Harbors were an “overreaction” and that the mailing sent there and in Duluth were obvious advertising attempts that simply provide residents with an option for service. He called the mailings a common practice for the industry. He also said Bluewater received approval from the city of Duluth to send the mailings out.
Shaffer disputed that.
“It wasn’t approved,” he said, contending that he never saw the flier before it was sent. He said someone from Bluewater called and said they were seeking the valve work and wanted a map of the project area.
“If it had (been approved), we would have asked them to change the language.”
The city of Duluth does not advocate for any particular plumbing company to install the valves, but those who are hired must get a permit.
Shaffer said with the new water tower, about 800 homes will have pressure over 80 psi, which, by the plumbing code, would require the valve. The city also is asking that another 800 homes with levels from 67-80 also have a valve.
The Bluewater mailing comes as the city is sending out letters of its own advising residents about the valve project. The city sent a general mailing to the owners of about 2,400 buildings expected to be affected by the water project.
“It wasn’t clear,” Shaffer admitted, and soon more mailings went out explaining the expected pressure levels at each home and what owners should do if they don’t have a valve.