Backflow in Action: The Case of the Disappearing Water

On a hot day in June 2011, Diana Olsen topped off the water in her pool, using a hose from her yard hydrant.

The next morning she noticed something peculiar. Her freshly filled pool was missing a third of the water; over 1000 gallons!

She checked the pool for leaks, but the ground surrounding the pool was completely dry. Then she noticed another oddity; the level of the water was at the same height as the end of the hose draped into the pool. Strange! Wanting an explanation , Diana turned to the experts. Who would know more about water than her water company?

She made a call to WaterPro and asked for Brannen, who had helped her out with a leak in her mainline the previous month. As Brannen inspected the scene with Diane, he saw that a backflow incident had taken place at the Relation Street address. It didn’t make a sound as it stealthily siphoned water from the pool through 75-100 feet of hose, slipped past the tap and deposited the 1000 gallons of water beneath the slab of concrete that encased the yard hydrant.

Thanks to a frost-free feature on the yard hydrant (not an approved means of backflow protection), that was as far as the water made it. Had the water traveled back to the meter, the next morning when Diana filled her water bottle for her run she would have gotten a big dose of chlorine.

Fortunately most backflow incidents are confined to the property where they occur, but if contaminated water flows back through the meter; the entire surrounding area is affected. There are countless toxins that come in contact with our drinking water every day through cross-connections.

People frequently ask, “How often does backflow really happen?” The case of the disappearing water proves that it happens more often than we will ever know. Many incidents are never detected or reported because they are so isolated.

Instead, we should ask, “How can I protect my drinking water from backflow and the hazards it comes in contact with?” The answer can be as simple as a hose bibb vacuum breaker on every culinary hose bibb of your property, or it can be as complicated as a Reduced Pressure Zone Assembly and a swing connection on your dual sprinkler system.

If you need help determining what type of protection you need for your system, please call our office and someone will assist you.