What is Backflow?
The reverse flow of water through a cross-connection from a possible source of contamination back into the drinking water system. This occurs if there a loss of pressure in the supply system, or back pressure (from a water main break or use of a fire hydrant for instance) whereby the water is back siphoned into the drinking water supply system bringing with it possible contamination.
What is a Cross Connection?
Any physical connection created between a the drinking water system and a possible source of contamination. Some examples are:
- Lawn irrigation/Sprinkler systems
- Garden hoses - especially when connected to lawn fertilizers and/or pesticides or other chemicals or left in a swimming pool or other liquid
- Chemically treated heating systems
- Swimming pools, hot tubs, spas
- Water operated sump drain devices
- Feed lots or livestock holding areas
- Boiler or steam heating systems
- Any place where the water supply (your faucet) meets a contaminated or potentially contaminated source
What Causes Backsiphonage or Backpressure?
Backsiphonage occurs when there is a loss of pressure in the water system such as a water main break, firefighting or use of a hydrant. Backpressure occurs when a higher opposing pressure is applied against the public water system's supply pressure. Any pumping system (such as a well pump) or pressurized system (such as steam or hot water boilers) can exert backpressure when cross connected with the public water system.
Why be Concerned?
Chemical burns, fires, explosions, poisonings, illness and even death have all been caused by backflow through cross-connections. All cross-connections pose potential health risks to each and every customer using to the water supply system. And, backflow happens more often then you think.
What can I do?
- Be aware of and eliminate cross-connections
- Comply with plumbing codes
- Maintain air-gap separation. Do not submerge hoses or place them where they could become submerged
- Use hose bib vacuum breakers on fixtures (for garden hoses, basement slop sink and outside)
- Install approved, testable backflow prevention devices on lawn irrigation systems
What is being done to protect the Public Water System?
Public water suppliers must determine potential and actual hazards. If a hazard exists at a customer's public water service connection, the customer will be required to install and maintain an appropriate backflow prevention device at the meter and/or the source of the hazard. The City of Munroe Falls will inspect any potential cross connection situation and reserves the right to discontinue the water supply until it is determined that there is no threat to the public water system.
Who is Responsible?
In Ohio, the responsibility for preventing backflow is divided. In general, state and local plumbing inspectors have authority over plumbing systems within buildings while the Ohio EPA and City regulate protection of the distribution system at each service connection.
Water customers have the ultimate responsibility for properly maintaining their plumbing systems. It is the homeowners or customer's responsibility to ensure that cross connections are not created and that all required backflow prevention devices are tested yearly and are in operable condition. Records of installation and testing are required for each device owner.
Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 3745-95 requires the Munroe Falls Water Department to protect the public water system from cross connections and prevent backflow situations. The City must conduct cross connection control inspections of water customers' property to evaluate hazards. In short, the City of Munroe Falls Water Dept must, by law, do everything reasonably possible to protect the public water system from contamination.
Need More Information?
Questions concerning backflow prevention and cross connection control may be directed to the office of the Public Service Director at the number shown above, or by contacting the Ohio EPA Northeast District Office at 330-963-1200.
Questions regarding internal plumbing may be directed to the City of Stow Building Department at 330-688-2729 or the Ohio Department of Commerce, Plumbing Administrator at 614-644-3153.