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Why Do I Need a Backflow Prevention Device?

What is Backflow?  Why Do I Have to Have a Backflow Prevention Device? And Why Does it Have to be Tested?

Backflow is the reverse flow of detrimental and dangerous material into water mains.  When there are connections between our water supply and sources of possible contamination it is potentially dangerous – and connections between drinking water lines and commercial and industrial plumbing systems can be deadly.  These connections are called cross connections.  The Water Department is responsible for ensuring the water is safe for everyone to drink, therefore it has established a cross-connection control program to protect our water system from backflow. 

A backflow event can occur because of backsiphonage or backpressure.  Backsiphonage happens when the upstream water pressure in a piping system drops to a subatmospheric pressure.  This might occur because of a high demand - like firefighting or a water main break, high demand during a heat wave, or a power outage to a pump.  Backpressure is when the pressure on the downstream side of a piping system is greater than the pressure on the upstream side – common causes and sources of backpressure include pumps, elevated piping, thermal expansion, and pressurized containers.

Some commercial and industrial processes use hazardous materials in their facilities.  Some of these hazardous materials regularly used by businesses include:

  • Chromates which are used to prevent corrosion in boilers, piping and air conditioning units.
  • Ethylene glycol which is a highly toxic antifreeze intended for use in automobile radiators and is sometimes misused in solar heating systems, hot water systems or fire lines.
  • Heavy metals such as arsenic, chromium or lead used in metal plating processes and manufacturing systems.
  • Pesticides and herbicides used to control weeds, rodents and insects.
  • Soaps, detergents, cleaners, bleaches, degreasers, and disinfectants which are used in car washes, commercial laundries, hospital laundries, dry cleaners and carpet cleaning businesses.
  • Gasoline, propane, oil, tar, and kerosene – these are used in a variety of applications from automobile repair to street maintenance and heating systems.
  • Chemicals such as formaldehyde, sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acid which are used as preservatives and cleaning agents and in various manufacturing processes.

Wastewater can also backflow into the drinking water system.  Industrial and commercial businesses commonly have complex waste systems that handle large volumes of contaminated and toxic waste which include:

  • Medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics, veterinary clinics, chiropractic clinics, nursing homes and laboratories.
  • Food processing and producing facilities such as poultry farms, dairies, feedlots, meat packing plants, bottling plants and canneries.
  • Education and recreation facilities such as schools, day care centers, churches, health clubs, parks, swimming pools, fairgrounds, campgrounds and golf courses.
  • Specialized facilities including beauty and barber shops, florists, print shops, photo-processing operations, kennels, coin-operated laundromats, car washes, gas stations and propane storage operations.
  • Mortuaries, morgues and cemeteries.
  • Shopping centers and high-rise buildings.
  • Manufacturing, processing and fabrication operations.
  • Chemical plants.

Wastewater from any of these establishments would pose a serious health risk if it entered the public water system.

As a business owner or manager, we need your cooperation to make this program work.  Any cross connection, whether it is a domestic, fire, or irrigation connection to the potable water system must have a backflow prevention device. These backflow prevention devices must be inspected and tested yearly to ensure our water system remains safe to drink.   Please submit your backflow test reports by July 1 each year to:

Bonner Springs Utilities

12401 Kaw Drive

Bonner Springs, KS  66012

Fax:  913-442-5947

We appreciate your assistance in maintaining a clean, safe water supply.

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