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BALTIMORE, MD – Baltimore City Public Works Director Rudolph S. Chow, P.E. has issued a reminder to everyone: Please be safe and responsible this summer:Swimming, camping and open fires are prohibited at reservoirs; please report open hydrants to 311.


Reservoirs: Baltimore City has three raw-water reservoirs: Prettyboy, Loch Raven and Liberty. These areas offer beautiful scenery with opportunities for biking, hiking, bird watching, boating and fishing. Reservoirs, however, are not safe for swimming and doing so can lead to tragedy.


All too frequently drowning occurs at these reservoirs. In 2010 three young men were tragically lost in three separate incidents within six weeks. Others have perished since then. Temperatures in the deep waters drop quickly and diving into them may lead to hypothermia. In addition there are very rapid drop-offs, currents, hidden rocks and branches. “No Swimming” warning signs are posted at each of the three reservoirs and also at Druid Lake, Lake Montebello and Lake Ashburton.


These man-made lakes are our drinking water. DPW asks that everyone heed this warning: those caught swimming can be charged with trespassing and, if convicted, will have a criminal record. Violators can also be fined up to $1,000 and jailed. All three reservoirs are patrolled, on land and water, by DPW’s Environmental Police - full-time police officers with full authority to arrest violators.


Despite the recent rains, forest fires can pose a serious threat to our reservoirs. A fire scorched two acres of forest at the Liberty Reservoir already this spring, and the Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW) is reminding its reservoir visitors that fires are not allowed in its protected forest lands.


The recent fire, near the Deer Park Road Bridge, comes at a time when the high winds of late spring and early summer can whip a small flame into a significant blaze. DPW's Environmental Police have reported evidence of illegal fires in the forest land and want visitors to know that even lit cigarettes pose a hazard. Please use caution when visiting these critical natural resources.


When enjoying the reservoirs, parents should supervise children at all times, and please make sure that even your young adult children are aware of the dangers and legal consequences of disregarding reservoir restrictions. Please heed the signs to make your summer a safe one. To reach our reservoir police officers in an emergency, please dial 911.


Hydrants: The illegal opening of fire hydrants, a temptation on hot days, can hamper firefighting, can interrupt water service to high-rises and critical care facilities and can damage water mains.


An open fire hydrant releases 1000 gallons of water per minute, and the pressure can push a child into the street and cause serious injury or death. Persons found guilty of illegally opening fire hydrants can be criminally charged, imprisoned for up to six months, and be fined $500.00.


A garden hose with a sprinkler at home may not be as dramatic as an open hydrant, but it can be used safely and provide a fun way to cool off. It also uses much less water. Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks pools are also a great way to cool off. All pools are now open on weekends, with an extended schedule beginning June 22. 


To report open hydrants, please call 311 in Baltimore City and 410-396-5352 in Baltimore County. If it is an emergency situation, please call 911.


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