Thief stealing water from county fire hydrants

Published 3:00 am Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Pike County Water Authority Board of Directors is asking county residents to help keep an eye out for anyone who is disturbing or draining water from the county’s fire hydrants.

Brandy Hand, Authority office manager, said only Pike County Water Authority employees and the volunteer fire departments are authorized to drain water from the county’s fire hydrants.

“The Pike County Water Authority has fire hydrants spread out all over the entire county,” Hand said. “What’s happening is that unauthorized people are disturbing and draining water from the Authority’s hydrants — actually stealing the water — and, in the process, they are stripping the bolts on the hydrants and leaving the back-flow preventers open. When someone damages the hydrants, the replacement cost to the county is $3,000.”

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Most of the damage and drainage is occurring along County Roads 3319 and 3316.

Hand said the suspicion is that the draining of the Pike County Water Authority’s fire hydrants is being done by a contractor(s) who is spraying for local farmers.

“They drain the water from the fire hydrants into big tanks and then added chemicals to the water and do contract spraying,” Hand said. “It’s not our local farmers who are draining the hydrants.”

Hand said those who are draining the hydrants are stripping the bolts at the top of the hydrant and the county is having to make the repairs and it’s costly.

“It is important that the Authority keep all cost down,” Hand said. “When someone damages the hydrants or gets water without paying for it our system has to cover the additional cost with rate increases.”

The fire hydrants provide fire protection for people in the county so Hand said these hydrants are extremely important.

“We have put locks on the fire hydrants and, if there is a fire, the volunteer firefighters will have to knock the locks off,” Hand said. “But we shouldn’t have to do that and we wouldn’t if it weren’t for the damage and draining that is being done.”

As the hydrants are being drained, water pressure is being lost and county residents are calling to complain.

“The Pike County Water Authority is asking everyone to be on the lookout and report any suspicious activity around the fire hydrants,” Hand said. “It is a federal offense to tamper with any part of a public water system. So if you see anyone not authorized getting water out of a fire hydrant, please contact our office at 334-566-1933.”