The BACKFLOW PREVENTION TECHZONE is a regularly updated compendium of backflow prevention / drinking water related resource materials & information links collected from around the world.  Recent to archived news stories' excerpts, and web site reviews are this collection's focus, for anyone involved or interested in the safety of potable water distribution systems, and backflow prevention or cross connection control programs.  Backflow prevention or cross-connection control education and training, for waterworks personnel, public health and municipal officials, architects, engineers, contractors, plumbers, backflow preventer testers, and students of all ages, are the central point of a series of references and links to basic through advanced technical information about the appropriate use and correct installation of drinking water system backflow preventer devices.  Why they are essential to drinking water plumbing safety and our health  will be explored extensively.  Historical to current web page links,  information, ideas, and techniques from around the world, related to backflow prevention and cross connection control between potable water plumbing, and drainage or non-potable systems, as well as other safe drinking water supply issues encompass the aim of the Backflow Prevention TechZone......


Top 10 Backflow News Stories of 2005

Protecting drinking water supplies within buildings "Mention drinking water contamination and most people would suspect problems with the ground water or with a water treatment plant. However, contamination of a building's internal piping or associated household appliances, whether by terrorist act or through an unintentional mishap, also could pose a serious threat to the health of building occupants. Recently, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Environmental Protection Agency's National Homeland Security Research Center (NHSRC) joined forces to cut the risk of this little explored hazard. Under an interagency agreement, researchers from the two organizations have launched an investigation of contamination possibilities affecting internal  water lines..."  Medical News Today, Feb. 26, 2005

Tainted water on tap "HUNDREDS of western Sydney residents have become ill after unknowingly drinking unhygienic recycled water, that was pumped though their household taps. The Daily Telegraph has learned that several residents of Glenwood and Kellyville have fallen ill after drinking the recycled water. Recycled water was mistakenly pumped through drinking water pipes. ...The dual-pipe recycled water scheme was designed for new estates in the Rouse Hill area in the early 1990s. ...Documents obtained under Freedom of Information show there have been at least four incidents of cross-connection since 2001. In the most recent incident – in August – 82 homes in four streets in Glenwood were cross-connected, allegedly after a plumbing mistake in a house under construction. was believed a plumber had accidentally crossed the pipes while he connected them. Sydney Water offered the affected residents a rebate." The Daily Telegraph, Jan. 12, 2005 (full article may be off-line)

LEGISLATION - PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES "Drinking liquid manure with your cup of tea, finding blood from the local abbatoir in the tap water or discovering glowing, growing green aglae fillling your sink may sound like the plot of a Hollywood movie, but it's not. These are just some of the real incidents that have occurred in Australia and New Zealand because proper backflow prevention measures were not in place. Backflow prevention is not a new issue. It was developed in the late 1800s after large companies realised that one of the major reasons for employee illness, and consequently loss of production, was contaminated drinking water. Yet some two hundred years later, many water utilities still struggle to convince people of the potential dangers associated with backflow and cross connections. ...Recognising the importance of both protecting mains water quality and the health and safety of their communities, most water utilities in New Zealand and Australia require their commercial and industrial customers to install and maintain backflow prevention devices at the water meter to ensure that contaminated water does not find its way into the mains.  This commitment to backflow prevention is not a worldwide trend. With the exception of the United States, Canada, Australia and, of course, New Zealand, the issues of cross contamination and backflow prevention are primarily seen as the accountability of the individual business with the governing bodies, both at a local and national level, taking little or no responsibility. This is illustrated by the French and British models. In France there is a mixture of private and public ownership, with the latter assuming a minimal amount of responsibility. In the United Kingdom there are limited formal standards for the types of backflow devices used (primarily head and break tanks) and the competence of the installers." Metrowater, Aug. 29, 2005 

Backflow backlash by council, residents "Some Venice City Council members aren't too thrilled by the city's new program to protect the public drinking water supply. "This is bureaucratic bumbling at its worst," council member Rick Tacy said. "The way it's being executed is like it's a government program. There's got to be a more user-friendly way to implement this." Council comments came after several residents spoke about a requirement that all public water customers install a backflow-prevention device in their water lines and pay for annual certifications. ...Resident concerns are with cost and location of these devices, with the city saying all 12,000 water customers must have them by 2010. Installation and purchase can be as much as $500 or more, according to some plumbers, and annual testing can be as much as $50. ..."It honestly sounds to me like the tail wagging the puppy," resident Chad Vaughn said. "In this case, it's the utilities department wagging the 12,000 customers. ...City Manager Marty Black said the county health department, which is regulating local backflow programs, initially wanted the conversion to be done within a year. The county backed off once it realized that was impossible, Black said. Venice is still developing a database to determine which of its 12,000 customers already have backflow devices, let alone whether they meet current standards. Right now there are only two city employees handling the backflow program. "Quite frankly, it's overwhelming our ability to respond (to utility service calls)," Black said." Venice Gondolier, March 11, 2005

City begins free inspections for water devices "City employees last week began a new policy authorized by the board of mayor and aldermen in December of inspecting backflow-prevention devices on water lines at no cost to building owners. ...Until the change in the city code in December allowing city  employees to conduct the annual inspections the process was handled by licensed plumbers in Dyer County with costs ranging between $45 and $50... ...There are over 600 businesses in the city that currently have backflow preventers installed. Rice explained that if a preventer fails inspection the state and city code require that repairs take place within 30 days. Then, the business owner would have to pay for a final safety inspection of the device.", Jan. 10, 2005

Council halts water valve installation "The Middletown Borough Council agreed last night to give discounts on retroactive water bills but decided to stop installing backflow prevention valves in borough residences until safety concerns are resolved. The council was expected to vote last night on a $50 rebate for residents who need to upgrade their water heating systems to counteract possible water pressure problems caused by the valves. After remarks by Councilman Christopher McNamara and some residents, the council voted unanimously to stop the valve installation and form a task force to determine how to deal with the situation. The retroactive bills and water-pressure concerns were precipitated by the borough's $1.1 million project to install digital water meters and backflow prevention valves in homes and businesses. ...McNamara said backflow prevention valves can cause an increase in water pressure when the hot-water tank is heating. He said the borough might have violated construction codes by installing the valves without installing thermal expansion tanks to counteract the increase in pressure.  Some residents told the council that their hot water tanks ruptured or that pipes began leaking after the valves were installed.  ..."You're installing a bomb in my house," said Ned Eppinger, who has not allowed the meter and valve to be installed. was estimated that only 2 percent of homes would need thermal expansion tanks, and residents were advised to watch for signs such as a dripping relief valve on the hot-water tank, creaking noises in plumbing or water surges.  "Nobody did their homework," Bowman said. "Thermal expansion is everywhere there is hot water. It's not 2 percent; it's 100 percent." The Patriot-News, May 3, 2005

RMWD backflow device issue a joke "William “Bill” Bopf is supposed to be on the board of directors for Rainbow Water. The battle with Rainbow over the “backflow” requirements is out of hand. Lyons says they are legal, but Rainbow says they are not. Rainbow says they must be tested, but the board says you don’t even need one if the pipe is less than one inch. The whole thing is a joke. You call the people at Rainbow and if they return the call he gives you the same song and dance he has been spouting for over a year. He says the board needs to determine the specifics, but in a year they have never dealt with the issue of need for a residence. In the meantime, we keep paying a monthly surcharge to have the backflow tested — but it never gets tested." The Village News, Sept. 15, 2005

Revolution's over, get a Backflow Preventer "A little of this, a little of that, or, would you like some cheese with your whine? When Eustis went all out for George Washington's birthday, it was the best of times. A parade and carnival rides on the lake struck a perfect note. Let those other towns have their watered down Presidents Day, a compromise for convenience that shortchanges two great Americans. We do it right, and I was proud to be here. Until the mail came Tuesday. How can a place that has its act so together when it comes to George Washington be so royally clueless in the area of Backflow Preventers? I have once again been found to be "out of compliance with City Ordinance # 02-57, Cross Connection, as stated in section 118-20 of this Ordinance." For the second time in two years, I am overdue to do something without ever having had the slightest notion that I was due in the first place. Supposedly there was a previous letter. I didn't get it. That might make for a good argument at the hearing, if there was going to be one. But there isn't. The city is willing to take its own word in this matter, and I either do as I was scolded, or make arrangements to shower next door. I don't even know what this device is, where it is located at my house or what it does, but apparently Backflow Preventer checkage is a vital service. It is also a service not provided by the city. ...While filing this year's letter from Eustis in my Miscellaneous Threats folder, I found last year's threatening letter from the St. Johns River Water Management District, which also uses a lot of capital letters in references to itself. That follows logically. It is sort of a glorified group of Backflow Technicians who think they're on the Supreme Court. I also found the letter I wrote back but never mailed when they fined me for something I'm not sure I did." Orlando Sentinel, March 5, 2005

City shuts off resident’s water in dispute about equipment "The city has shut off the water of a resident who refused to heed its order to install a device to prevent potential contamination in the public water system. The action is part of the city’s efforts to locate the source of bacterial contamination in the system dating back to the spring of 2004. Officials never were able to locate the source of the contamination. One possible explanation they offered was a private water supply being tied to the public system -- known as cross-connections -- without proper backflow protection. This can occur if residents pump lake water into their irrigation system, which already is connected to the public system, as a way to save money watering their yards. Lakewater could flow to the public system if the resident doesn’t have backflow protection. ...Last December, the city mailed a survey to lakefront residents asking if they had alternative water supplies. The response was worrisome. “We were surprised by the amount of people who have alternative water sources they actually use,” Brooks said. City crews physically surveyed more than 400 properties that did use lake water to ensure they didn’t have a cross connections. These connections also can occur from wells or, less commonly, hydraulic boat lifts using lake water. They located several actual cross-connections. In April, the city mailed about 100 letters to lakefront residents who had alternative water supply from a well or for pumping lake water. The letter stated they must either remove the alternate system or put in a backflow prevention device. The city would inspect the property to ensure action was taken. In late October, the city sent 57 letters to residents saying they hadn’t complied and would have their water shut off by Nov. 30. Nine still didn’t comply, and the city sent a third letter giving them a drop-dead deadline of Dec. 14 to come into compliance. They had the option to plead their case before a building official. Two appeared before the building official and received an extension to come into compliance. Their cases are pending. Six others met the city requirement by removing pumps from the lake or installing a backflow prevention device. One received an extension because they installed the wrong device. The lone remaining resident had their water shut off Friday." The Olympian, Dec. 22, 2005

The Toxicity of Environmentalism "The environmentalist fear mongers are gearing up for a new propaganda blitz, based on an alleged connection between the two recent major hurricanes and alleged global warming. They apparently believe that modern education and cultural reconditioning have been at work long enough for most Americans by now to have adopted the mentality of primitive tribal villagers, who can be frightened into sacrificing their sheep and goats (substitute SUVs and air conditioners) to avoid the wrath of nature. ...Recently a popular imported mineral water was removed from the market because tests showed that samples of it contained thirty-five parts per billion of benzene. Although this was an amount so small that only fifteen years ago it would have been impossible even to detect, it was assumed that considerations of public health required withdrawal of the product. Such a case, of course, is not unusual nowadays. The presence of parts per billion of a toxic substance is routinely extrapolated into being regarded as a cause of human deaths. And whenever the number of projected deaths exceeds one in a million (or less), environmentalists demand that the government remove the offending pesticide, preservative, or other alleged bearer of toxic pollution from the market.  ...While it is not necessary to question the good intentions and sincerity of the overwhelming majority of the members of the environmental or ecology movement, it is vital that the public realize that in this seemingly lofty and noble movement itself can be found more than a little evidence of the most profound toxicity. ...The reason that one after another of the environmentalists' claims turn out to be proven wrong is that they are made without any regard for truth in the first place. In making their claims, the environmentalists reach for whatever is at hand that will serve to frighten people, make them lose confidence in science and technology, and, ultimately, lead them to deliver themselves up to the environmentalists' tender mercies. The claims rest on unsupported conjectures and wild leaps of imagination from scintillas of fact to arbitrary conclusions, by means of evasion and the drawing of invalid inferences. It is out and out evasion and invalid inference to leap from findings about the effects of feeding rats or mice dosages the equivalent of a hundred or more times what any human being would ever ingest, and then draw inferences about the effects on people of consuming normal quantities. Fears of parts per billion of this or that chemical causing single-digit deaths per million do not rest on science, but on imagination. Such claims have nothing to do either with actual experimentation or with the concept of causality." Ludwig von Mises Institute, Oct. 3, 2005




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