What is backflow prevention, and why do I have to have it?

Backflow  refers to a situation where a drop in pressure in a potable (drinking) water system siphons contaminated water into the system, polluting the clean drinking water. When that happens, people who drink the water may become sick.

To prevent this, WaterPro – like most other culinary water providers  – employs a backflow specialist  to inspect places where cross-connections might occur between our culinary water system and potentially contaminated water sources. Our specialist, Paige Wolfe, then works with the customer to make sure they install a backflow prevention assembly. The most common place this occurs is when a homeowner has a sprinkler system that uses culinary water.

Why isn’t everyone required to install backflow prevention on their sprinkler systems?

Actually, they are according to the law:

  • The 1974 Public Law 93-523 and 1986 Public Law 99-339 (re-authorized in 1996) address the need for protection against cross-connections.
  • International Plumbing Code (IPC) requirements deal with annual testing requirements.

Utah State Cross Connection Control (CCC) Policy 25, B-C specifies residential sprinkler system requirements.

My friends in other Utah towns haven’t been forced to install backflow prevention.

That may be true, because some municipalities don’t always enforce the CCC. In fact, enforcement is usually unpopular until drinking water is contaminated because of a cross-connection incident, as happened in Saratoga Springs in 2008 and Cedar Hills in 2012.

Why does WaterPro enforce backflow prevention?

Because we care! We are proud of our good record for providing quality drinking water. We can’t say that a contamination incident will never happen in our system, but every cross-connection we find and correct reduces the chances that it will happen.

How can I get out of installing a backflow prevention assembly?

If you have access to our pressure irrigation system, you could set up your sprinkler system to use only pressure irrigation, with no link to the culinary system.

Otherwise, you could cap the drinking water supply to your sprinkler system, and simply water using a hose and sprinkler attachment, with a properly installed and approved hose bib vacuum breaker or anti-siphon device.