Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bleeding H2O

It's uncomfortably hot and humid right now in NYC. It's the type of hot that makes you walk at a slow pace with your arms held slightly away from your body in fear of breaking a clothes drenching sweat.

I arrived home the other day to find a block party had broken out on my street and all of the neighborhood kids were cooling off in the fully open fire hydrant. There were gallons of water flooding down the street as far as 6 blocks away.

Everyone was having a great time. Music was blasting, kids were laughing, and adults were lazily conversing in the shade. I can't default them for enjoying a miserably hot afternoon.

I was however horrified at the 12ft high rupture of water freely spewing from the hydrant at 1000 gallons of water/min (I did the research). And I know for a fact that it was open for at least 12 hrs because it didn't get shut off until I called 311 to report it at 11pm. That's 720,000 gallons of wasted water! That day, I saw at least 6 other hydrants open in Brooklyn alone bringing my neighborhood total to at LEAST 4,320,000 gallons of wasted water.

This is one of the most disturbing things that I have ever witnessed. It amazes me that people can be so disrespectful towards nature. The National Geographic website has some great interactive features and quizzes on water. Get informed and you'll be less likely to make wasteful choices.

If you see an open hydrant in NYC, give 311 a call. You're probably going to be on hold for 20 min but think of all the gallons of water you'll be saving.

Stay cool! (just don't open a hydrant)

In health,


Joanie Johnson, HC


  1. Hey Joanie,

    Great article. So sad, to see so much water being wasted. I saw the same thing every summer when I lived in Bushwick.

  2. did either of you grow up here? are you aware of this tradition in poor neighborhoods where people can't afford AC or a trip out of town to cool off? do you have any idea how much water is available in the may be ironic but it either gets consumed or it evaporates...go stare at the resevoirs upstate and cry as the water 'escapes' into the sky on a hot day.

  3. Dear Anonymous,

    Thank you for offering another perspective. I stand firm behind my opinion but it's always insightful to hear someone else's point of view.


    this is a much better option than not opening hydrants!!

  5. Oni, Thank you! (Anonymous please check this out) This article is great. There is also a water feature at nearly every playground in the city and free public pools. There are PLENTY of ways to cool off in NYC without wasting thousands of gallons of water or needing an expensive AC.

    I also found this additional info on the site:

    Opening fire hydrants without spray caps is wasteful and dangerous. Illegally opened hydrants can lower water pressure, which can cause problems at hospitals and other medical facilities and hinder fire-fighting by reducing the flow of water to hoses and pumps. The powerful force of an open hydrant without a spray cap can also push children into oncoming traffic. Call 311 to report an open hydrant.
    Hydrants can be opened legally if equipped with a City-approved spray cap. One illegally opened hydrant wastes up to 1,000 gallons of water per minute, while a hydrant with a spray cap only puts out around 25 gallons per minute. Spray caps can be obtained by someone 18 or over, free of charge at local firehouses.