Did you know there are 126 private hydrants that don’t belong to the city? Soon they will be color coded to help people see the difference.
Early last year, while city crews were reviewing the water main placement and hydrants for a small proposed development, Watertown’s Water Systems Manager Pete Hartz said he found the city was not following its own code for the locations and responsibilities of private fire hydrants.
“We weren’t uniformly enforcing it,” Hartz said. “We had intentions by some property owners to meet the code requirements. However, we identified nearly 200 private hydrants, but none of them met all of the requirements of the code so we wanted to do a reset on the code to determine what makes the best sense for private hydrant owners and the water department.”
Hartz said he met with the fire department about the proposed changes and then with the city attorney to finalize the code before it came to the full council Monday.
“We still have a lot of work to do. We have identified them (the private hydrants),” Hartz said. “We put a layer on our GIS (geographic information system) of them so we know where they are. We reached out to a few (property) owners and we’re still trying to document some easements and placements of these hydrants where it looked like the intention was well played out. However, the easements didn’t line up properly.”
He said the private hydrants may be needed to meet the requirements of the state fire code or improve water quality.
“They can’t be part of the public water system as they are located outside the right of way on private property,” Hartz said. “Even if a public easement is recorded, the main extension and hydrant are still considered to be private property.”
He said even though the private hydrants are on private property firefighters are allowed to go on the private property to use the private hydrants.
Hartz said the city’s water department is going to paint the private hydrants yellow this year. City fire hydrants are red.
“We are then going to reach out to the property owners so they know what is required of them moving forward,” he said.
Hartz said the Watertown Water Department will maintain all of the city hydrants, but the department will no longer maintain the private hydrants.
“The property owners will be responsible for those hydrants,” Hartz said, “just as they are with their interior private fire suppression systems.”
Watertown Alderman Eric Schmid asked if the residents will need to figure out how to maintain the private hydrants by themselves.
Hartz said the intention is to have the water department review the requirements of maintaining the hydrants with the property owners and then assist them.
He said there are double check valves within the hydrants that require annual testing. He said forms will be given to property owners with the private hydrants so the city’s fire and water departments know proper maintenance is being performed.
“We don’t want to have any situations where the fire department is not confident going up to a yellow-painted hydrant and hooking up and trying to use it for firefighting purposes,” Hartz said. “We want to make sure those hydrants are being used as they are intended for and that’s for fire protection.”
Schmid asked if there is a means for property owners with private hydrants to convert those to public.
Hartz said it comes down to distance and the property owner’s proximity to the hydrant.
“There are certain requirements by the fire code on replacements of hydrants,” Hartz said. “The city’s requirement is every 500 feet. However, for the most part, every 300 feet in the public right of way there is a fire hydrant. So if the private development already has a private fire hydrant we could run a few scenarios distance wise.”
Watertown Fire Chief Kraig Biefeld said he wants to make sure the owners of private hydrants have adequate protection for their buildings and especially if they have a sprinkler system and that the hydrants are in the right place.
“I would allow some hydrants to be disconnected if they (property owners) had what was needed for the fire hose based on the size (of the building) and what is in the building,” Biefeld said.
“A lot of them (private fire hydrants) don’t meet the current conditions of the hydrants and for places where hydrants are already in use we really want them in use and maintained. Our biggest thing is we want to make sure every hydrant is maintained so that when we get there we can confidently use it for proper fire-flow (of water).”
TOWN OF IXONIA — Even those paying their tax bills say it’s hard not to smile when they walk into the Ixonia Town Hall and are greeted by veteran Clerk Nancy Zastrow.
Zastrow’s good nature and penchant for self-deprecation are among her winning qualities and are, in part, why she was chosen for the Daily Times weekly 10 Questions feature.
“Sure,” Zastrow said when asked if she would participate in our brief interrogation, which is intended to allow the public to get to know their neighbors a little better. “But I guess I have ‘sucker’ written across my forehead!”
Zastrow began her work with the Town of Ixonia in June of 2016. She said the ironic thing is that the town hall used to be Ixonia Bank, where, in June of 1976, after graduation from Oconomowoc High School, Zastrow was hired to work as a secretary.
“To come back here 40 years later and work in the same building is pretty awesome,” she said. “Life does come full circle.”
Zastrow has been in the political arena since 1989, when she ran and won as a write-in for the Town of Watertown Treasurer’s position. Prior to that, she worked part-time at J. Little Photography and helped her husband of 44 years, Dale, on their dairy farm.
Zastrow lives in the Town of Watertown, just over the border from the Town of Ixonia, and she and Dale own land in the Town of Ixonia, where she grew up.
“I lived right next to the fire station on North Street,” she said. “So I have deep roots in Ixonia.”
Zastrow said she has a great life that is, “ ... blessed with three children who are married to wonderful spouses whom I consider my children, also.”
She has six grandchildren, ranging in age from 9-17 — three girls and three boys.
Here are the 10 questions that were fielded by Zastrow:
If you weren’t the town clerk, what would you most likely be doing with your life to make a living?
“My dream job was to be a lawyer.”
What are your top three favorite TV shows of all time and why?
“’M.A.S.H’ — I used to watch this show with my dad. He was a Korean War vet and loved watching this show. ‘Dancing with the Stars’ — I love to dance and wish I could dance like they do. ‘I Love Lucy’ — it is slapstick comedy and even though I have seen every episode, it makes me laugh every time.”
What are your top three movies of all time and why?
“’Pretty Woman’ — I like Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in this movie and their dynamics. ‘Titanic’ — it is a movie with history and I love history. ‘Frozen” — My granddaughters loved this movie and they would dance and sing to the songs. We have watched this movie repeatably at our house.”
Who are some of your favorite musicians and why?
“Glen Miller Band — I enjoy the big band music. My parents listened to this music while I was growing up and I enjoyed listening to the big bands. Carrie Underwood, Barbara Mandrell, Josh Groban and Harry Connick Jr., as well.”
Have you read any good books lately that you would recommend?
I like to read Nora Roberts books, but I have been too busy lately to make the time to read. Hopefully, my next vacation I can binge read.”
What three persons in history would you most like to meet and why?
“Abe Lincoln — I have always been intrigued by his political ideas. Martin Luther King — I would like to speak to him about today’s world and all of the sad things that are happening and to hear his prospective. Bobby Kennedy — I was little when he was assassinated, but I remember listening to him speak on TV and I would like to talk with him about politics and the world today.”
What hobbies do you enjoy?
“I love to cook and bake. Dale and I enjoy watching our grandchildren play sports and when I have time, I like to read.”
Why do you like the Ixonia area?
“I grew up in Ixonia and it has changed a lot since I was little. But the small town atmosphere is still here. There have been many times the community has come together to help another family in need, whether it was losing a home to fire, or a severe illness, or helping make a neighbor’s home accessible for a disability. This community comes together for the good of their neighbor. Ixonia is rich in religion with three churches available to residents and Ixonia is deeply rooted in faith. There is so much history in Ixonia and growing up here has helped me appreciate how the town used to be where the farms thrived and the smell of manure came from the pig farms, dairy farms and beef farms in the air and no one complained. You just didn’t open your windows if the wind came from that direction! It is a community where walking down the street you wave and say ‘Hi’ to your neighbor and you respect your neighbor, even if you do not agree with them on everything. It is a great community to live and work in and I am happy to be working here.”
What are your favorite travel destinations?
“Seattle and Florida. My bucket list vacation is Alaska.”
How do you best like to travel — planes, trains or automobiles?
“I love to fly, but I like the train, also.”