Cross Connection & Backflow Prevention
IT’S OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT OUR PUBLIC DRINKING WATER SYSTEM
A cross connection means a connection or arrangement of piping or appurtenance in which a backflow could occur. A pollutant may enter the potable water system when the pressure of the pollution source exceeds the pressure of the potable water source or when a sudden loss of pressure occurs in the water system and backflow occurs. Backflow or back siphonage occurs when water flows backward through the water supply system. When the water is accidentally mixed with hazardous chemicals or bacteria, it is called dangerous!
What is Backflow?
Water normally flows in one direction, from the public water system through the customer's plumbing to a plumbing fixture. Under certain conditions water can flow in the reverse direction. Potentially contaminated water from a customer's premise may backflow through an unprotected cross connection and enter the public water supply. There are two types of backflow - back siphonage and backpressure.
Common areas where cross connections are a concern?
What must I do to protect the water supply?
As required by State Regulations, the City of Georgetown mailed out Cross Connection Control Survey Questionnaires that must be completed by you - the water customer and returned to the City of Georgetown. We ask that you return completed survey ASAP, bring in or use our convenient drop box.
What if I have a backflow prevention assembly?
The Georgetown Water Supply and the State will require you to have your backflow prevention assemblies tested for performance. These assemblies must be tested every year and a copy sent to us for review if necessary. You may typically find assemblies on supplies to main service lines to a building, irrigation systems, fire sprinkler systems, boiler or other equipment.
What can I do to protect the drinking water supply?
The City of Georgetown is committed to providing quality, cost effective service in the production, treatment, testing and delivery of safe drinking water to all residential and commercial users.
Section 653.801 of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency regulations requires the City of Georgetown to conduct a cross connection control survey of the public water distribution system at least every two years.
We will be mailing all our water customers a water survey form in the mail. Please take a few minutes to complete this form and return it to us.
This information may seem overwhelming until you have some examples of what could happen. Here are some examples:
1. Unwanted Guests (residents find parasites in tap water) Oct. 1991 (Southgate, Michigan). Parasitical worms were found in the water at two homes after a malfunctioning lawn sprinkler coupled with a water main break sucked nematode into the water system. The nematodes first showed up in the evening of Oct. 1 after the backflow prevention system on the privately owned underground sprinkler malfunctioned. When the water pressure dropped, the vacuum in the system sucked some water from the sprinkler into the City water. A homeowner found the worms swimming around in his bathtub when he started filling the tub for his child. he said he was appalled to find the critters, as well as rust and other debris in his water. "The only reason I noticed it is because I have children and was giving my kid a bath. If you have a screen on your faucet or you were taking a shower, you wouldn't see it." The contractor who installed the sprinkler system didn't pull a city permit and used a "cheap" atmospheric vacuum breaker. When it malfunctioned, which was at the time of the water main break, the nematodes were pulled right in.
2. Heating System Anti-Freeze into Potable Water. Bangor Maine Water Department employees discovered poisonous antifreeze in a homeowner's heating system and water supply in November 1981. The incident occurred when they shut off the service line to the home to make repairs. With the flow of water to the house cut off, pressure in the lines in the house dropped and the anti-freeze, placed in the heating system to prevent freeze-up of an unused hot water heating system, drained out of the heating system into house water lines, and flowed out to the street. If it had not been noticed, it would have entered the homeowner's drinking water when the water pressure was restored.
3. Kool-Aid Laced with Chlordane. In August 1978, a professional exterminator was treating a church located in a small town in South Carolina, for termite and pest control. The highly toxic insecticide chlordane was being mixed with water in small buckets, and garden hoses were left submerged in buckets while the mixing was being accomplished. At the same time, water department personnel came by to disconnect the parsonage's water line from the church to install a separate water meter for the parsonage. In the process, the water was shut off in the area of the church building. Since the church was located on a steep hill, and as the remaining water in the lines was used by residents in the area, the church was among the first places to experience a negative pressure. The chlordane was quickly siphoned into the water lines within the church and became mixed with the Kool-Aid being prepared by women for vacation bible school. Approximately a dozen children and three adults experienced dizziness and nausea. Fortunately, none required hospitalization or medical attention.
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