WSSC Kicks Off Water Theft Prevention Program
People Caught Stealing Water Face Fines
Laurel – July 13, 2016: Water is stolen on a regular basis from WSSC. While it’s difficult to nail down the exact amount, WSSC estimates that 145 million gallons of water were stolen in just the past year.
To put that in perspective, WSSC produces at least 155 million gallons of water each day to serve our 1.8 million customers. The price tag on the stolen water? Between $500,000 and $1 million per year, depending on the tier in our billing structure.
Today WSSC, in partnership with the Montgomery and Prince George’s County fire chiefs held a media briefing in the Bentley Park Community of Laurel to kick off a Water Theft Prevention Program.
All too often, hoses are illegally hooked up to fire hydrants to fill up swimming pools, for landscaping purposes, mobile car washes or use at construction sites and neighborhood carnivals.
“Stealing water is a crime,” said WSSC Police Chief Harvey Baker. “Our police force is committed to raising awareness about water theft and enforcing the law.”
WSSC maintains nearly 42,000 fire hydrants in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. WSSC fire hydrants have a grey body with a green top. Hoses illegally connected to hydrants allow people to steal water. By doing so, the hydrants are often improperly operated, which can affect public safety.
“When there’s a fire, it’s critical that we have access to fire hydrants in good working order,” said Chief Scott Goldstein, Montgomery County Fire & Rescue. “We are in constant communication with WSSC about the status of hydrants.”
“If people tamper with fire hydrants and they don’t work when we need them, that can be a matter of life and death,” said Chief Marc Bashoor, Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department. “WSSC works closely with firefighters to ensure we know the proper way to operate hydrants.”
Opening or closing a fire hydrant too quickly can cause nearby water mains to rupture. That impacts the pressure and the water available to fight fires.
Customers who suspect someone is illegally obtaining water from a WSSC fire hydrant should report it to the WSSC Police at 301-206-8888.
Potable water can be legally purchased from a WSSC fire hydrant by using a fire hydrant meter. WSSC leases meters to individuals and businesses on a limited basis. The meter allows for the purchase of water without paying the sewer charges. For more information, please visit wsscwater.com/hydrantuse.
Water tanker trunks that fill up from fire hydrants on a regular basis have meters installed on the trucks and often display a WSSC permit sticker on the side of the truck.
About WSSC: Established in 1918, today the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission is among the largest water and wastewater utilities in the nation, with a network of nearly 5,600 miles of freshwater pipeline and more than 5,400 miles of sewer pipeline. Serving 1.8 million residents in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, WSSC drinking water has always met or exceeded federal standards.