It's a shared responsibility
Protecting the public drinking water system from harmful contaminates is a shared responsibility.
- Property owners are responsible to maintain a backflow preventer.
- The utility is responsible to educate the community and enforce the State’s rules.
- Certified testers are responsible to comply with the standards of the utility.
Residential customers are required to maintain a backflow preventer at the water meter if you have a separate irrigation system or a well on the property.
- Some residential properties may not be required to maintain a backflow preventer.
- There are various types of backflow preventers for residential properties.
- The testing frequency ranges from two years to ten years depending on the type of backflow preventer that is required by the utility.
- Customers are notified 45-60 days before any required action.
- Repairs should be made promptly.
- Violations will result in the water service being discontinued.
All commercial water customers are required to maintain a backflow preventer at the water meter.
- Backflow preventers are required to be tested yearly to ensure they are working properly.
- Commercial customers are notified 30 days before their yearly test is due.
- Repairs should be made promptly.
- Violations will result in water service being disconnected.
What is backflow?
Backflow is the backward flow of water through a pipe. The normal direction of water flow is from the utility water main into homes or businesses. The backflow of water from home plumbing systems into the community drinking water supply happens when water is pulled backward due to a pressure loss in the utility main pipe or pushed back by a pressure source like a well pump.
Back siphonage creates a vacuum as water drains toward the community water system. Water or fluid can be siphoned or pulled into the utility main water line.
Back pressure can develop when irrigation well pumps are connected to drinking water for pump priming or blending drinking water with well water to reduce a "rotten egg" odor or driveway staining.
What is a cross-connection?
Cross-connections are connections between drinking water and other water or fluids of unknown quality. When that occurs, the community's drinking water supply can become contaminated. A backflow preventer is required if the potential for a cross-connection exists. If your water piping is connected to a source of water of undrinkable fluid, a cross-connection has occurred.
Who needs a backflow preventer?Backflow preventers will be required if there exists an actual or potential hazard for cross-connection on the property. Some of these hazards include properties that have irrigation systems, fire sprinkler systems, medical facilities, commercial process facilities, wells, and reclaimed water irrigation systems. Regardless of the source of water supplying the irrigation system, backflow preventers protect the drinking water system from cross-contamination from these systems should they become connected.
Why are backflow preventers needed?Contamination of drinking water is usually the result of cross-connections of piping between your drinking water and some other source such as irrigation well or pond. The American Water Works Association (AWWA) estimates over 100,000 cross-connections occur each day. Backflow preventers are designed and installed to act as check valves and prevent the backwards flow of water from private plumbing lines into the public water supply lines.
Does the backflow preventer need to be in front of my house?To protect the community water system as much as possible and meet state requirements, the backflow preventer needs to be installed as close to the water meter as possible. This reduces the accessibility to the piping for connections that could be made between the backflow preventer and water meter, essentially bypassing the backflow preventer.