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E-Splash June 2013 - Backflow Committee
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Illinois Section AWWA - E-Splash -  June 2013

 Backflow Committee
Mike Eisenhauer, Chair

Why Do We Do This?

Sometimes in the world of cross-connection control and backflow prevention we lose sight of the forest because of all the trees. We become so completely focused on adhering to all of the regulatory rules and regulations that we sometimes forget to ask "why”. Why are the regulations written the way that they are? Why do I administer my backflow program the way that I do? What are we actually trying to accomplish? Why, why, why?

The answers to almost all of the "whys” of effective cross-connection control management become very clear when we acknowledge and accept that backflow happens, and our job is to prevent it.

Our first responsibility is to ensure that no new cross-connections are created. Why? The simple answer is because this is the easiest part of effective cross-connection control. All new plumbing should be properly permitted allowing for plan review as well as actual on site plumbing inspections. Any hazardous connections will be identified by the plumbing inspector and the appropriate backflow prevention assembly will be required to be installed.

Now that we have a plan to protect all of the new plumbing installed, what about all of the old plumbing? By old plumbing I mean any plumbing that was installed prior the mid 1980’s when the Illinois Plumbing Code first required the installation of backflow prevention assemblies at unprotected cross-connections. Why? There are hundreds or thousands or more of existing unprotected cross-connections in each and every water system. We never know exactly when backflow will happen but we can be absolutely certain that when it does occur and contamination of the water system is the result, that contamination will be from an unprotected cross-connection.

After the discovery and remediation of actual or potential cross-connections, the most important element of all effective cross-connection control programs is record keeping. Why? Each and every backflow prevention assembly that is being tracked in your record keeping system is, in fact, a known point of entry to the water system that can potentially allow a contaminated substance into the water system. All backflow prevention assemblies are mechanical devices and, as such, require routine maintenance and service to ensure that they are actually doing their job of protecting the water supply from contamination.

When the day-to-day frustrations of how to effectively manage your cross-connection control program are weighing on your shoulders, keep in mind the whys, and then it all becomes worthwhile.


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Backflow best practices and related documents.
Item Name Posted By Date Posted
Chicago CCCDI Documentation New Data Entry Format PDF (977.14 KB)  more ] Administration 3/2/2016
PSA - Backflow WAV (2.16 MB)  more ] Administration 6/25/2015
APBA 2013 Residential Backflow Hazards PDF (833.59 KB)  more ] Administration 11/4/2014
Official Version of the Plumbing Code 7-7-14 PDF (3.31 MB)  more ] Administration 8/25/2014
Backflow Bulletin 1 - Fire PDF (395.18 KB) Administration 11/14/2011
Backflow Bulletin 2 - Boilers PDF (141.66 KB) Administration 6/11/2012
Backflow Bulletin #3 PDF (373.02 KB) Administration 1/23/2017
Backflow Bulletin #3.1 PDF (416.45 KB) Administration 1/23/2017
Backflow Bulletin 4 - Restaurants PDF (124.68 KB) Administration 8/7/2012
Backflow Bulletin Binder: 1 - 4 PDF (630.29 KB) Administration 8/7/2012


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