Chicago Water Hydrant Policy

Click Here for Full Memo: Includes Municipal Code text and Fire Hydrant Use Request Form


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Department of Water Management (DWM) policy for temporary use of water for community gardens, as of 4/1/15:

I. Temporary Water Use Permit

Definition of Community Gardens: Non-commercial gardens of a community, neighborhood, or similar non-profit organization used to grow garden crops for the personal non-commercial use of the gardeners. Community Gardens are “gardens sprinkled or irrigated which are not part of an adjoining premises”.

Gardens that sell crops are not covered by Policy.

Temporary Water Use Permit Fees for community gardens are provided in the Chicago Municipal Code at Section 11-12-280.

  • For 3,000 square feet of garden area or less: $106.73 per season
  • For each additional 3,000 square feet or major fraction thereof: $45.91 per season

II. Hydrant Cap Assembly, Back Flow Preventer, Hydrant Keys & Installation

Temporary Water Use Permit holder for community garden must provide, install, use and maintain a Hydrant Cap Assembly and a ¾-inch diameter backflow preventer on each Hydrant Cap Assembly. A Hydrant Cap Assembly may be purchased from the Department of Water Management. The backflow preventer must be purchased separately by the Permit holder and must meet the requirements of ANSI A112.1.3, or ASSE Standard 1011. Backflow preventers are available for purchase at local plumbing supply, building supply, or hardware stores. Typical acceptable devices are Watts Series 8 Hose Connection Vacuum Breakers, and Cash Acme V-3 and V-3C Hose Connection Vacuum Breakers.

Temporary Water Use Permit holder for community garden is responsible for installation, removal and safe operation and safe keeping of the Hydrant Cap Assembly and the hydrant key.

Keys to unlock hydrants with Hydrant Custodian Caps will not be provided. User must pay for DWM to remove and reinstall each Hydrant Custodian Cap as discussed elsewhere in this document.

The fee for purchasing the Hydrant Cap Assembly (including hydrant cap, ¾ inch National Pipe Thread (NPT) taper connection for the user, and a hydrant key to turn hydrant on and off) from the Department of Water Management is $104.29.

III. Removal of Hydrant Custodian Caps by DWM

Keys to unlock hydrants with Hydrant Custodian Caps will not be provided.

Many fire hydrants throughout the City are equipped with Hydrant Custodian Caps to prevent unauthorized use. If a hydrant with a Hydrant Custodian Cap is to be used the Temporary Water Use Permit holder for community garden must pay a service fee for DWM to remove the Hydrant Custodian Cap prior to the start of the temporary water use.

The DWM fee for removal of one hydrant Custodian Cap is $300 each.

IV. How to Obtain Permission To Use Water From Fire Hydrant(s)

Fill out the attached Fire Hydrant Use Request Form and submit it to the Department of Water Management as identified on the form. After review, DWM will approve the use and return the form to the user with the required fee calculated.

Obtain a Certified Check or Money Order (or other form of payment approved by Department of Buildings) to pay the total fees for water use plus equipment and services provided by DWM.

Take the complete, DWM-approved form and the payment to the Department of Buildings Plan Review and Permits Desk Room 906, City Hall, 121 North LaSalle St. Obtain a receipt for payment of the fees.

If the user wishes to obtain a Hydrant Cap Assembly from DWM, take the payment receipt to the DWM facility at 39th and Iron to obtain the equipment.

V. Responsible Use of Hydrants

  • Permit holder must use hydrant in a responsible manner
  • Do not abuse or damage hydrant
  • Do not use water unnecessarily, or for uses other than permitted.
  • Do not waste water. Do not leave hydrant on if it is not attended.
  • If at any time the hydrant is found to be improperly used the Department of Water Management will take all measures to close and secure the hydrant and pursue any legal remedies available. Further, the Department of Water will seek recovery from the permit holder for any damages caused to this hydrant during the term of the permit

Please note that water drawn from City hydrants is NOT POTABLE and is not to be used for cooking or drinking.

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