Leaking Benicia fire hydrant gets many complaints but no fix

BENICIA, Calif. (KTVU) -- Despite numerous complaints over the past several months, a leaky fire hydrant on Industrial Way in Benicia that is wasting an estimated 700 gallons of water a day still hasn't been fixed.

A viewer contacted KTVU on Facebook to ask us to look into the hydrant and why it wasn't getting fixed. As it turns out, there's a disagreement between the city of Benicia and the property owner about who the hydrant belongs to and who should pay to fix it.

"Everyone knows about it," a trucker who would only identify himself by his first name, Primo, told KTVU.

Some of the people who frequent the area told KTVU they first noticed the leak a couple months ago. Others said the hydrant has been leaking for at least a year.

"I keep thinking one day when I walk by it'll be fixed. And it's not," Primo said.

It's not clear exactly how long the hydrant's been leaking, but the red paint on the hydrant is corroded and peeling off where the water has soaked it. There is a pool of water soaking the gravel below the hydrant with some leafy green weeds growing out of it.

Someone reported the leak to the City of Benicia a month ago. The City's Director of Public Works, Graham Wadsworth, said they estimate it is leaking about 700 gallons a day. However, the hydrant isn't connected to a meter, so there's no way to know exactly how much water is being wasted.

Plans to fix the leak are being delayed by a dispute. 

"There's a disagreement on who's responsible for the pipeline on the private property," Wadsworth said.

A company called ICON owns the land. A company representative said over the phone that the fire hydrant is the city's responsibility, not theirs.

Benicia's public works director says according to county parcel and utility maps, that's not true.

Wadsworth said the hydrant is on private property. They want ICON to pay the $2,000 to $5,000 dollars it would cost to fix it.

"Most fire hydrants have a valve to turn it off, but apparently this one doesn't have a separate valve to turn off the hydrant," Wadsworth said.

If the hydrant isn't repaired, the only way to stop the leak is to shut off the water main connected to it. That would turn off water to all the hydrants and buildings nearby.

In the meantime, the water keeps trickling out at a rate of a half a gallon a minute.

"It's like a leaky faucet at the house. It's wasteful," Primo said.

The hydrant is not connected to a meter, so the property owners aren't paying for the wasted water. Wadsworth said if they can't come to an agreement with the property owners soon, the next step is to shut off the water to the entire property.