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Why is backflow testing required for some households but not others?

Ken Little
Water faucet

Backflow prevention assemblies ensure uncontaminated water. (StarNews file photo)

According to Cape Fear Public Utility Authority spokeswoman Carey Disney Ricks, backflow prevention assemblies (BFPA) are required on all commercial water and irrigation services, and on residential water services for larger meters, services with fire lines and most commonly when the service is connected to an irrigation system.

“This is important considering that backflow is the undesirable reversal of flow of potentially contaminated or polluted water into the drinking water system and can occur at any time when there are differential pressures in the water system and/or if there is a cross connection,” Ricks said.

Ricks said that for residential properties, BFPA are typically installed at the irrigation meter. If there is not an irrigation meter the backflow preventer may be on the plumbing system at the irrigation branch.

“Backflow prevention assemblies are mechanical in nature with moving parts that wear and foul. Testing by a certified BFPA tester is required upon installation and at least annually to ensure the assembly is functioning properly,” Ricks said. “When not functioning properly the assembly must be repaired.”

A properly installed and functioning BFPA helps to ensure that potable water in the distribution system does not become polluted or contaminated, protecting public health and the quality of our drinking water, she said.

All residential water services connected to irrigation systems should have backflow prevention assemblies, Ricks said.

The BFPA should be tested at least annually and repaired when malfunctioning, she added.

“It is the responsibility of the consumer to test and maintain BFPA. CFPUA is working to improve the tracking and notification process for backflow testing, but customers with irrigation systems and backflow devices should have testing preformed on an annual basis even if they do not receive a reminder from CFPUA,” Ricks said.

While failure to install, test and repair backflow prevention assemblies may subject the water customer to fines and service termination, the most important reason to check these devices is to ensure safe drinking water, Ricks said.

Backflow prevention requirements are found in CFPUA’s Cross Connection and Backflow Prevention Ordinance, DWQ Public Water Supply rules, and the plumbing code. Ricks said community compliance staff is available to answer questions about backflow prevention and can be reached by calling (910) 332-6558, or by emailing community.compliance@cfpua.org.

User-contributed question by:
Kim Perry

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One Response to “ Why is backflow testing required for some households but not others?”

  1. On May 27, 2011 at 6:47 am Rout wrote:

    Does CFPUA have back flow prevention on fire hydrants and how often do they check them?

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