Some Frequently Asked Questions About Backflow
Who is requiring this backflow device?
There have been many documented cases of drinking water being contaminated or polluted by both commercial and residential sources around the world, The United States Department of Environmental Protection, adopted the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974 (revised it in 1986 and 1996) Public Law 99-339. In Georgia the Cross-Connection Control regulations are set forth in the Georgia Rules for Safe Drinking Water Chapter 391-3-5-.13. This made it the responsibility of the local water purveyors to enforce the cross connection laws. To meet these Responsibilities, the state of Georgia required the Augusta Utilities Department to put together a cross-connection backflow prevention program in 1996. We began enforcing this program as of January 1997. The Augusta Utilities Department started enforcement with major industries and at this time is enforcing small commercial accounts. All new construction, both commercial and residential, has to install backflow devices at this time, and we will begin working with retrofitting residential locations in the future.
What is backflow?
Backflow is a water condition that you want to avoid at any cost. Simply put, backflow occurs any time the flow in your water system reverses.
For example, occasionally a car will strike a fire hydrant on a street. Water will gush out of the hydrant at full water pressure, causing a huge drop in water pressure in all buildings on the block. With this drop of pressure, the direction of water flowing through pipes can actually reverse. Whenever flow reverses, there is a strong likelihood of fresh water contamination.
With this in mind, you clearly want to avoid mixing fresh water with non-potable water. This is what a backflow valve is designed to prevent.
What is a cross-connection?
A Cross-Connection is a permanent or temporary connection between potable or drinking water and anything, which can pollute or contaminate the water supply.
Cross connection control is simply a program that is designed to take safeguards necessary to protect the Augusta Richmond County’s water supply.
Potentially all water services are affected by possible cross Connections, including residences for a number of reasons, including water heaters, because of thermal expansion, and a typical garden hose.
A cross connection can be corrected in several different ways; one is by disconnecting the source of potential contamination, another is to install a backflow preventor, which allows water to flow in only one direction. A Backflow assembly looks like a complicated and intimidating piece of equipment, but is a simple and very sound way of eliminating a direct or permanent link to a potential hazard. There are several different types of devices and according to the degree of hazard a business represents as to which device will be required.
What is the purpose of a backflow prevention valve?
The backflow prevention valve prevents contamination of the city’s water main.
Imagine, for example, you have a garden hose in a bucket of soapy water. The water pressure supplied to your property may drop unexpectedly. When this happens, the water flow to the water hose in the bucket of soapy water could reverse and suck the contents of the bucket into the city’s water main.
When the water pressure is restored, the soapy water from the bucket can contaminate the city’s water main. Every building on your street could then have soapy water flowing out of their water faucets.
Obviously, in industry, things could get even more extreme. Facilities that process acids, toxic chemicals or sewage need to prevent a reversal of water flow at any cost.
This is where a backflow valve comes in. During a time of water pressure fluctuation, the valve will prevent your facility’s materials from flowing into the city’s water system.
How do I know if I need to install a backflow valve?
All commercial businesses in Augusta Richmond County will need at least a Double Check Backflow Device.
All homes in Augusta Richmond County will have a different device which is a Dual Check Backflow Devices.
Who can install a backflow valve?
The building owner can do it himself or herself providing all laws and regulations are followed. OR, the owner can hire a licensed backflow installer with a Georgia State Plumbing License. For the job to be done legally, The person hired to do the installation must be a licensed plumber and have certification in backflow device installation.
How much does a backflow valve cost?
Backflow valves range in size from ¾ of an inch (homes and small businesses) to 10 inches (for Large Facilities). Valve prices vary from $350 to greater than $30,000 according to the size of the device.
What maintenance and inspection is required?
Backflow valves must be tested and certified when installed and at least once per year thereafter. Most commercial devices can be tested in about one hour.
Residential Devices have to be replaced every five years.
After completion of test, the owner of the backflow device is given a certified test report. Most valves pass inspection. But if the device fails you have 30 days to have it repaired or replaced. All newly installed devices must be tested within five days and the test results sent to the Augusta Utilities Department within 10 days. All test results are to be sent to the Augusta Utilities Department so a copy can be kept on file.