News Release, METCOM
MetCom has been working with the Office of the Sheriff’s Lexington Park Community Oriented Policing (COPs) Unit to establish an ongoing partnership on a public summer water spray program as a part of a community outreach and education initiative. Enjoying a fire hydrant sprinkler during the hottest days of the summer is an old tradition and we wanted to try and find a way to do that here in St. Mary’s County.
Event locations are strategically identified by the COPs Unit and coordinated with our Operations Water Treatment & Distribution Division. Hydrants are checked and flushed prior to each scheduled event. MetCom provides the spray caps (diffusers and gate valves), hydrant wrenches, water meters to control use as well as personnel to open and close the hydrant at the event. The use of water is metered and recorded and promotional materials such as sidewalk chalk, bubbles, coloring books, popsicles, etc. are provided to the participating children, and in some case, participating adults. We are excited to announce that our inaugural pilot event was held in Colony Square in Lexington Park on June 8, 2019 and was a great success! (see photos below). The next event is tentatively scheduled for June 27th in Columbia Commons.
This program is made possible through the use of spray caps (diffusers and gate valves) that reduce the flow rate from the hydrants to as low as 25 gallons per minute as compared to an illegally opened hydrant which can waste up to 1,000-1,500 gallons per minute. The use of spray caps also keep children and other pedestrians safe from the force of a normal unrestricted spray from a hydrant.
Although this program utilizes water, we are also advocates of water conservation. As such, the fire hydrant spray portion of these events are limited to approximately 20-30 minutes. Limiting the duration; helps ensure that the participants will not lose interest and stay engaged, helps conserve water during high demand summer months, and ensures that the hydrants are activated only while in use. It costs us about $1.70 to treat 1,000 gallons of water. So, the public benefit and perception of this program far outweighs the costs, even if a small amount of overtime might be needed.