CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — The head of the Chesapeake Department of Public Utilities says a drilling company stole water from a fire hydrant near Mt. Pleasant Road. 10 On Your Side had still photos of two workers connecting a hose to the hydrant on Rosebud Lane, February 28.
Utilities Director David Jurgens said the photos were part of his investigation that revealed the company was RSC Services, based in Springfield, Va. 10 On Your Side tried to reach the company, and was referred to a local number. A woman who answered confirmed that it was RSC. When we explained who we were and why we were trying to reach the company, the woman hung up the phone.
“It’s theft of water,” Jurgens said. “Secondly, and a bigger issue, is that when the fire department needs the hydrant, they need it to work.”
Jurgens explained how someone taking water from a hydrant could damage the hydrant and put excess pressure on the system, damaging the underground pipes.
A resident near the hydrant on Rosebud Lane, Doris Higgins-O’Brien, said she recognized the truck when 10 On Your Side showed her the pictures. “I feel that they are jeopardizing our neighborhood,” she said.
Chesapeake has a program where contractors can get a permit to get water from the city. It involves hooking up to valves installed at seven of the city’s fire stations. The utilities department monitors the usage, and contractors record their withdrawals in a log book. The city then bills the users for the water they have drawn at the same rate a homeowner would pay.
Jurgens said all users end up paying for stolen water: “We are subsidizing that water, and I don’t like it for any of our customers,” he said.
Jurgens said he estimates the value of the water stolen at about $12, but the risk to safety and equipment is the greater issue. He concedes this is one of the rare instances where photos helped solve the case.
“We know it occurs, but it’s almost impossible to police. You can’t put a camera on all 6,000 hydrants out there,” he said.
RSC was a subcontractor for Verizon. Jurgens said Verizon has assured his department that there would be no more water theft. In a first offense case like this, Jurgens doubts there will be a fine, but the city attorney will contact RSC to explain the law.
Higgins-O’Brien said the next time she sees an unfamiliar vehicle in the neighborhood, she’ll be more curious. “I guess I really have to pay more attention to what’s going on,” she said. “And ask more questions.”
Here’s a list of all the fire stations where contractors can get water legally:
- Station #1 – Seaboard & 20th Street
- Station #2 – Freeman & Hamilton
- Station #3 – Rokeby & Military Highway
- Station #7 – 3329 South Battlefield Blvd.
- Station #8 – 209 N. George Washington Blvd.
- Station #11 – Dock Landing & Nina
- Station #12 – 4421 Taylor Road
For more information, contact the Chesapeake department of public utilities at 757-382-6352.