Moline police want residents to keep a close eye on the fire hydrants in their neighborhood. They say someone has been tampering with hydrants all over the city and officials at the water department say that can lead to big problems.
"Too many times now to be coincidence. We've got somebody who's being malicious about this," said Tony Loete, Moline's Water Distribution Manager.
It's happened a handful of times over the last two weekends. Moline police and water department personnel find fire hydrants opened with water flowing from them onto the sidewalks and streets.
"They're taking off one or more caps on the hydrant and opening it up," added Loete, "In each case the water was flowing into a storm drain and just wasting away."
The hydrants can put out between one thousand and three thousand gallons per minute. It's hard to say how much water has been lost from these incidents but, if it keeps happening, Loete says worst case scenario is it could threaten the city's water supply. "If it were to run for long enough or a high enough amount of water."
Though at this point nothing has been damaged as a result, there's a concern if it happens again the water could case property damage, erosion, or traffic hazards like an icy intersection.
Water department personnel think whomever is messing with the hydrants may have special knowledge or tools to do it. Tampering with a fire hydrant could be a violation of homeland security laws, meaning a possible federal offense, because hydrants are a part of the public water system.
"If citizens see a noticeable decrease in pressure or discoloration of water they should call the water department as soon as possible," said Loete.
If you know who is responsible for opening the hydrants Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward. Call (309) 762-9500 where you can report your information and you will remain anonymous.