Emerging concerns

It is worth noting that backflow devices have been targeted in a rash of thefts spanning the entire country. Maybe it’s just the sour economy, but the last five years have seen a marked increase in copper fittings being stolen off of backflow preventers, on both commercial and residential land.

When essential parts are stolen off a backflow preventer, it not only diminishes the device’s efficacy as a backflow countermeasure, but it can actually create the conditions for backflow to occur where they were not already present. If one of your customers is a victim of these thefts, he or she will be the one left on the hook for replacing the looted device—and may also be exposed to contaminated drinking water.

These incidents have caught the attention of backflow prevention device manufacturers. Some companies are responding by engineering cages to go around the devices. Other companies, Wilkins being an example, are attempting to make their backflow devices less attractive targets by manufacturing the units with less brass and copper.

Almost all irrigation systems pose an extremely high risk for backflow contamination. If you’re working on a commercial site, the local codes will inform you about your legal obligations. Your residential sites are not likely to be inspected by an external authority, but you can mine the same local codes and ordinances for guidance when deciding what system to install.

Don’t become another headline about water pollution and EPA fines. Identify the backflow risks unique to the site. Select and install a mechanical prevention device that meets that site’s needs. Properly maintain that device after installation, and your client—not to mention the public at large—can continue to enjoy uncontaminated drinking water.

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