News Release, St. Mary’s Metropolitan Commission
MetCom is 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,” MetCom Executive Director George Erichsen said.
Event locations are strategically identified by the COPs Unit and coordinated with MetCom’s Operations Water Treatment and Distribution Division. Hydrants are checked and flushed prior to each scheduled event. MetCom provides the spray caps, 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. The inaugural pilot event was held in Colony Square in Lexington Park on June 8, 2019, followed by another event on June 27 at Columbia Commons. Another event is planned for Thursday, July 11, at Ronald Drive in Lexington Park.
Images courtesy of the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office
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. Using spray caps also keeps 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,” Erichsen said. 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 took us a while to get here, but we finally made it happen,” Erichsen said. “The public benefit and perception of this new initiative far outweighs the costs, even if a small amount of overtime might be needed,” he said. “It costs MetCom about $1.70 to treat 1,000 gallons of water.”
“I am proud to have the Sheriff’s Office working in conjunction with MetCom to provide another community service to the children and residents of Lexington Park,” Sheriff Tim Cameron said. “The Lexington Park COPs Unit not only provides law enforcement to the area, but also works to strengthen ties between the Sheriff’s Office and community members.”