Keep­ing county wa­ter hy­drant con­nec­tions safe

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

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.

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