Cross-Connection & Backflow Prevention
April 06, 2021
What is backflow and is it dangerous?
If you’ve been following our social media page, or have received our January letter, you already know that the Tennessee of Department of Environment and Conservation requires all residential sprinkler meters to have an approved backflow device installed and tested by June 1, 2021.
But... why? Sprinkler meters without an approved, properly operating backflow device can pose a serious risk to your health. In the right conditions, contaminated water can reverse flow from an irrigation system back into the clean supply of drinking water. You'll find below answers to the most commonly asked questions about backflow devices, cross-connections, and who to call for device installation.
What is a cross-connection?
A cross-connection is any connection between a potable water line and a non-potable water line ( water not intended for consumption ). An underground irrigation system is considered a cross-connection.
What is backflow and what causes it?
Backflow is when water reverse flows back through any pipeline or plumbing system from its intended direction. This can happen if there is a loss of pressure from our distribution system causing the water from your irrigation system to back-siphon. ( e.g. When fire hydrants are in use. )
Is backflow dangerous?
Yes! Backflow is a health risk not only to yourself but to those around you!
An unprotected cross-connection ( irrigation system ) can allow contaminants such as herbicides, fertilizers, soaps, and animal waste to siphon back through the sprinkler heads into the clean supply of drinking water.
I'm not sure if I have a sprinkler meter?
A sprinkler meter is a dedicated irrigation meter used to meter outdoor water usage. If you are not paying for a secondary meter, then more than likely you do not have a sprinkler meter. If you are unsure, we can help. Give us a call at (423) 892-2890.
Benefits of a sprinkler meter include accurate measurement of outdoor water usage, separate shutoff for the irrigation system, and the elimination of sewer charges for outdoor water usage such as watering your lawn, filling pools and hot tubs, pressure washing, or other outdoor activities.
Why does my sprinkler meter require a backflow device?
When a sprinkler meter is installed it creates a cross-connection between your irrigation system and Eastside Utility’s water infrastructure. Where there is a cross-connection, there is a risk for backflow to occur.
Who is responsible for the cost of installation, testing, and maintenance?
Eastside Utility does not install backflow devices and does not maintain them.
The homeowner is responsible for maintaining their plumbing systems and ensuring that cross-connections are properly protected, remain operable, and tested yearly in accordance with the state of Tennessee’s requirements.
I lease my property and use a sprinkler system. What do I do?
Contact your landlord to ensure the sprinkler meter has a backflow device installed.
I have a device on my sprinkler meter and it’s installed underground.
You will be grandfathered in as long as the device passes inspection every year.
I have a sprinkler meter that needs a backflow device installed.
All residential sprinkler meters must have an approved backflow device installed by a certified plumber. Annual inspections are required.
Testing results should be e-mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you do not have a backflow device installed, a certified plumber in backflow devices will know the new rules and regulations. For your convenience, a list of certified backflow device inspectors can be found on page 3 from the letter below or you can search for one in the local business directory. Make sure the plumbing contractor obtains all required permits and inspections. It’s advisable to receive several bids before making your final decision.
Eastside Utility, January 20th Letter: http://ow.ly/icWZ50DfdWW
Approved Devices: http://ow.ly/noAo50DfdWV
Why does a backflow device have to be tested every year?
Just like any other mechanical device, failures happen. For your safety, annual inspections are required to ensure the backflow device is properly functioning.
Who can test my backflow device?
A certified backflow tester. A list can be found on page 3 from the Eastside Utility January 20th Letter above or by searching the local business directory. Make sure the plumbing contractor obtains all required permits and inspections. It’s advisable to receive several bids before making your final decision.