May 17, 2022

Art & Lifestyle:

MetCom, Deputies Help Kids Beat the Heat

Beat the Heat

The St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission is working with the Office of the Sheriff’s Lexington Park Community Oriented Policing Unit to create an ongoing partnership for 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 in a news release distributed by the sheriff’s office.

Locations for the events are strategically identified by the COPs Unit and coordinated with MetCom’s Operations Water Treatment and Distribution Division. Each of the hydrants is checked and flushed before each scheduled event.

MetCom provides the spray caps, hydrant wrenches, and water meters to control use, plus the personnel to open and close the hydrant for participating kids. During the spray, use of water is metered and recorded and promotional materials like sidewalk chalk, bubbles, coloring books, popsicles, and more are given to the participating children, and in some case, adults.

The first event was held in Colony Square in Lexington Park on June 8, 2019, and then another event followed on June 27 at Columbia Commons and then July 11 at Ronald Drive in Lexington Park.

This program is made possible through the use of spray caps, which are diffusers and gate valves, which 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 to 1,500 gallons per minute. Use of the 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 is limited to about 20 to 30 minutes. This way, the participants will not lose interest and stay engaged, plus it 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. 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.”

To learn more about Lexington Park, visit the St. Mary’s County Community Development Corporation’s Leader member page.

St. Mary’s County Community Development Corporation

46940 South Shangri-La Drive, Suite 7

Lexington Park, MD 20653


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