What is a backflow?
A water system depends on pressure to keep water flowing in the proper direction through the pipes. However, anything that causes a drop in water pressure can create a reverse flow from a homeowner’s plumbing system back into the public water system. This is called backflow.
For example, if you have a garden hose submerged to fill a bucket, Jacuzzi, fish tank, etc., and the water system suddenly loses pressure, the flow of water can be reversed, sucking any contaminants in that water backwards into the system.
A cross-connection is any physical connection between a possible source of contamination and the public water system. For example, if a homeowner uses a cistern or an old well for outdoor watering, it cannot in any way be connected to pipes that are connected to the City of Aurora water system. Even with a valve in place, it is illegal.
Residents with an in-ground sprinkler or irrigation system will be required to have an approved, testable backflow prevention device on lawn irrigation systems (either a pressure vacuum breaker or a reduced pressure principle backflow device). They must also provide proof that the backflow prevention device has been inspected and tested by a certified tester annually. Most lawn irrigation installers and local plumbers can provide these services.
The City of Aurora, as outlined in Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 3745-95, is permitted to conduct future inspections of residences connected to the water system and require the installation of backflow prevention devices as needed.
What are examples of cross-connections and backflow scenarios?
- Soapy water or other cleaning compounds back-siphoned into your water supply plumbing through a faucet or hose submerged in a bucket or laundry basin.
- A hose submerged in a swimming pool creates a pathway for pool water to enter your water supply plumbing.
- Fertilizers / pesticides back-siphoned into your water supply plumbing through a garden hose attached to a fertilizer / pesticide sprayer.
- Chemicals / pesticides and animal or bird droppings drawn into your supply plumbing from a lawn irrigation system with submerged nozzles.
- Bacteria / chemicals / additives present in a boiler system back siphoned into the water supply.
- A connection made between a private well supply and the water being supplied by a public water system through the water supply plumbing.
What can I do to prevent backflow?
- Be aware of and eliminate cross-connections.
- Maintain air gaps. Do not submerge hoses or place them where they could become submerged.
- Use hose bib vacuum breakers on fixtures (hose connections in the basement, laundry room and outside).
- Make sure toilets have anti-siphon ballcock assemblies.
- Install approved, testable backflow prevention devices on lawn irrigation systems.
- Install an approved, testable backflow prevention device at your home’s water service connection.
- Do not create a connection between an auxiliary water system (well, cistern, body of water) and the water supply plumbing.
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 Ohio EPA and water suppliers regulate protection of the distribution system at each service connection.
Water customers have the ultimate responsibility for properly maintaining their plumbing system. It is the homeowner’s or other customer’s responsibility to ensure that cross-connections are not created and that any required backflow prevention devices are tested yearly and are in operable condition.
What is the law? Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 3745-95 requires public water suppliers to protect their water systems from cross-connections and prevent backflow situations. Public water suppliers must conduct cross-connection control inspections of their water customers’ property to evaluate cross-connection hazards.
If a homeowner is found to have a potential or actual cross-connection contamination hazard, the customer will be required to eliminate the hazard and / or install an appropriate backflow prevention device at the service connection and / or at the hazard.
Why is the City of Aurora vulnerable?
The City of Aurora Water System is vulnerable to backflow contamination because our system is small and there is much less water volume than there would be in a large water system to dilute any contaminants.
How will residents comply?
The City of Aurora Water Department asks all residents to implement the recommendations outlined here.
All homeowners should use hose bib vacuum breakers on all outdoor spigots. They are available in many hardware stores or can be purchased online.
Residents are not allowed to immerse any type of hose or faucet fixture that is attached to the home’s plumbing unless it has its own backflow prevention device.
See the Installation Diagram for more information.
Also, see our Certified Backflow Tester List.