Backflow Prevention

Backflow Preventer

What are cross-connections and backflows? 

When drinking water piping connects to various plumbing fixtures or water utilizing equipment a cross-connection is created. If improperly protected, contamination can result when a backflow event occurs - allowing contaminates to reverse flow from the fixture/equipment back into the drinking water piping.

Conditions that are likely to create a backflow event are typically common, but unfavorable, hydraulic events that occur within the public or private segments of the water distribution system such as: an owner or worker draining down a house or building to make a plumbing repair; a broken water main or distribution pipe; severe/widespread power outages; fire fighters using large quantities of water to extinguish a fire, or; a water utilizing piece of equipment or process creating pressures greater than those present in water distribution system.

When these unfavorable hydraulic events are occurring, contaminates can be back-siphoned into the drinking water due to negative pressures; or contaminates can back-pressured into the drinking water due to excessive pressure imposed by the water utilizing piece of equipment or process.

What is backflow prevention?

For many appliances and processes backflow prevention already exists. For instance, a faucet spout terminates above the flood rim level of the sink or tub. So if the sink or tub is full of dirty water or worse, backed-up sewage, there is no possible way for backflow because of the air gap created by the elevated spout. Toilet fill valves, clothes washers, dishwashers, and refrigerator/ice makers also employ some type of built-in air gap as their method of protection.

However, there are numerous applications within commercial and industrial processes that require additional protection. In general, these applications cannot utilize the air gap method of protection because the equipment or process requires a direct connection in order to utilize the dynamic pressure and flow that already exists within the water distribution system.

Therefore, directly connected water piping requires a different method of protection; the backflow preventer. A backflow preventer is a “one-way” appurtenance (an assembly of check valves or a vacuum breaker), that only allows water to flow in the desired direction and physically impedes reverse flow. Once the water flows out, then it can't flow back in.

What is the Cross-Connection Control Program?

If there's an incident resulting in contamination of public drinking water (due to improper or unprotected plumbing connections causing backflow), the owner responsible or occupant of the property can be held responsible for damages. The Town of Strathmore has initiated the Cross-Connection Control Program to help property owners reduce the risk of a contamination event they may be liable for.

The program requires appropriate cross-connection control devices on all new industrial, commercial, and industrial (ICI) developments. Existing ICI properties are required to undergo retrofits or testing of backflow prevention devices. Many ICI properties in Strathmore have already installed backflow devices. Testing will help these properties to ensure their device is working properly.

The Cross-Connection Control Program will significantly reduce the risk of contamination to Strathmore’s water supply. It will also reduce the liability of customers who could be sources of such contamination.

What properties are affected by this program?

The amendments to the Water Utility Bylaw are specific to Industrial, Commercial, or Institutional properties in Strathmore. However, any property owner - even a residential customer - is liable if an incident of contamination due to backflow originates on their premises. If you're a residential customer you can learn more about backflow prevention on EPCOR's Preventing Backflow in Your Home.

Who can install and test a backflow prevention device?

Installation and/or testing must be completed by a certified Cross-Connection Control Tester. These professionals hold a current AWWA Cross-Connection Control Tester Certificate and are registered with the Town.

What is the timeline to complete testing or installation?

All Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional property owners are required to ensure backflow prevention is in place on their premises. Premises owners have always been liable for incidents that contaminate the public water supply, and this bylaw has been created to help minimize this liability. Education of the bylaw begins in December 2020, with enforcement measures in the bylaw coming into effect in January 2021.

First Notice issued by Town:

For existing customers, premises which require backflow prevention devices will be identified by an inspector from the Town. An initial notice will be sent out by Town administration to notify the customer to upgrade or install their back‐flow prevention device within 60 days.

The Town will provide a list of certified testers which the customer may use to annually inspect their new or upgraded devices.

Optionally, the customer may choose to have the Town to install or upgrade their backflow prevention device and bill the customer quarterly over a period of two years within the 60‐day period of notice issuance. T

Second Notice:

In the event that the customer does not comply with the Town’s request to install or upgrade their backflow prevention device within 60 days after the initial Notice is sent out to them, a second letter or notice will be issue to the customer as a reminder to install or upgrade the required device within 30 days. 

The Town will provide a list of certified testers which the customer may use to annually inspect their new or upgraded devices.

The customer may still have the option to have the Town to install or upgrade their backflow prevention device and bill the customer quarterly over a period of two years subject to a 10% administrative fee for this option. The customer must notify the Town if they prefer this option within the 30‐day period of notice issuance. 

Third Notice:

In the event that the customer does not comply with the Town’s request to install or upgrade their backflow prevention device within 30 days after the second notice is sent out to them, a third letter or notice will be issue to the customer as a reminder to install or upgrade the required device within 30 days. The Town will provide a list of certified testers which the customer may use to annually inspect their new or upgraded devices.

The customer will not have the option to have the Town to install or upgrade their backflow prevention device and bill back to the customer. If the customer does not comply with the third notice to install or upgrade their backflow prevention device within 30 days of notice issuance, the Town will access the customer’s premises and install the required backflow prevention device at the customer’s cost plus a 15% administration fee. The cost to install the required device will be billed back to the customer by way of their water utility bill.

Fourth Notice:

In the event that the customer does not comply with the Town’s request to install or upgrade their backflow prevention device within 30 days after the third Notice is sent out to them, a fourth and final letter or notice will be issue to the customer as a reminder to install or upgrade the required device within 7 days. The customer will be required to provide a written response to the Town to confirmation the device installation or upgrade date within 7 days. C.

The customer may optionally provide a written response to request the Town to install or upgrade the required device at the customer’s cost plus a 20% administration fee. The cost to install the required device will be billed back to the customer by way of their water utility bill. If the customer does not comply with these measures within 7 days, a water shut off notification will be issued to the customer by the Town.

The Town will follow a similar enforcement process for annual testing of backflow control devices and submission of testing records. Non‐submission of annual backflow prevention device testing records can trigger the Town to test the device at the customer’s cost plus a 10% administrative fee. Refusal to provide the annual test results after four notifications triggers a water shut‐off notification.

Where can you find more information about the Cross-Connection Control Program?

You can read the Water Utility Bylaw Amendment and the Backflow Prevention and Cross-Connection Policy.

Cross Connection Control Test Report

If you have questions you can contact our Infrastructure Team at 403-934-3133 or email infrastructure@strathmore.ca

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