Keeping county water hydrant connections safe
The Department of Public Works Utilities Division works to provide you with safe, sustainable drinking water. One way the county keeps drinking water safe is by requiring the use of proper equipment when connecting to hydrants.
When someone connects to a hydrant without the proper hydrant meter or backflow preventer, it can cause differences in the water flow and pressure. This may cause iron deposits to become stirred up in the water pipes, causing the water to appear yellow or brown in color. The condition caused by the iron deposits is not toxic nor harmful.
It is illegal to connect to a hydrant without the proper hydrant meter or backflow preventer. Charles County hydrant meters are painted orange to make them easy to identify. Connections using hydrant meters of any other color or not painted at all, and without the use of a backflow preventer, are illegal and have the potential to contaminate our water supply.
Backflow preventers are important because they contain check valves that ensure contaminated water is not pulled back into the system. The county rents hydrant meters to qualified commercial establishments, such as land developers, landscapers, brick masons, swimming pool companies and construction companies. The county does not rent hydrant meters to residents.
The fire department relies on hydrants when emergencies occur. Illegal connections can lower pressure in the water lines, which can affect fire protection. It is important that water is readily available at the required pressure level. Illegal hydrant connections also create additional costs for the community, including additional repair, investigation and administrative costs.
Stay vigilant for illegal connections. These illegal connections include, but are not limited to, unauthorized, out-of-county companies using hydrants — without a meter and/or a backflow preventer — to fill swimming pools, mix concrete or water newly-sodded lawns.
Should you obser ve someone connecting to a fire hydrant without an orange hydrant meter and backflow preventer, excluding the fire department, contact the Charles County Sheriff’s Office at 301-932-2222. When calling the sheriff’s office, please provide them with the street location of the hydrant connection and any identifying information regarding the vehicle such as a license plate number, make and model of the vehicle and company name on the vehicle. Please do not approach the individual.
Keeping our community safe is a team effort from our public safety agencies to county government to you, the resident. It is important to minimize illegal hydrant connections and promote safe, clean water for Charles County.
Bill Shreve is the Charles County director of the Department of Public Works.