The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) requires every water supply to develop and implement a cross connection (backflow prevention) control program. One requirement of this program is to send a survey to all residential water customers in the Village of Richmond every two years. All residential water customers are requested to complete the survey. Please note that there are some required fields, but not all fields in the survey need to be filled in.
What is a cross connection?
Cross connection refers to an actual or physical connection between the drinking water system and any pipe, vessel, or machine containing a non-potable fluid, contaminants, such as chemicals, bacteria, pesticides, or waste water.
- A garden hose is submerged in a bucket of soapy water, hot tub, or swimming pool.
- A lawn irrigation system is connected directly to the drinking water system.
What is backflow?
Backflow occurs when water flow is reversed from its intended direction and, by way of a cross connection, is pushed or siphoned back into the drinking water system. Backflow can occur by the following mechanisms:
- Backsiphonage – The pressure in the drinking water system is lowered. This type of backflow can result from water line flushing, fire fighting, or water main breaks.
- Backpressure – The pressure in a customer’s piping system is greater than that of the drinking water system. This primarily occurs in commercial applications involving pumps, high rise buildings, or boilers.
How can cross connections and backflow affect my drinking water?
If a cross connection exists and backflow occurs, contaminants can be drawn back through pipes and into the drinking water system. This has the potential to pollute drinking water and create a potential health hazard.
- A garden hose is submerged in a bucket of soapy water. A water main breaks down the street, lowers water pressure, and soapy water from the bucket is backsiphoned through the hose and into the water system (backflow). At the same time, someone at the residence pours a glass of water from the kitchen faucet. The soapy water flows back out the kitchen faucet, creating a contaminated glass of water.
- A sprinkler head from a lawn irrigation system sits in a puddle of water containing fertilizer (cross connection). Two blocks down the street, firefighters connect to the water system to fight a fire and water pressure is lowered. The puddle of water containing fertilizer is backsiphoned through the sprinkler head and into the water system (backflow.) Meanwhile a neighbor is taking a shower. The fertilizer-contaminated water flows back through the water system and out the neighbor’s shower head.
What can I do to prevent backflow?
The easiest way to avoid backflow is to eliminate cross connections between the drinking water system and contaminants. Sometimes cross connections cannot be avoided. In these cases, the installation of a backflow prevention device will stop backflow.
- Avoid creating a cross connection when filling a bucket, hot tub or swimming pool. By installing a ‘hose bib vacuum breaker’ on any faucet used for connecting a hose and a gap between the hose and the water in the container, you eliminate the cross connection and the possibility of backflow.
- Install a backflow prevention device between the lawn irrigation system and the drinking water system to prevent backflow.
Where do backflow mandates come from and who is going to enforce these mandates?
Section 18 of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act (P.A. 89-445, eff. 2-7-96; 90-773, eff. 8-14-98) and 35 Ill. Adm. Code 607.104 provides the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) direction from both the Illinois legislature and Illinois Pollution Control Board. These statutes establish that no person can threaten a water supply and that local water supply officials are responsible for protecting their water mains from connections that have the potential to allow the backflow of contaminants into their respective distribution systems. Further, 35 Ill. Adm. Code 602.115 gives the Illinois EPA authority to develop and modify “Agency” regulations regarding cross-connection control at community water supplies.
What happens if I do not fill out the survey?
All water customers are required to complete the survey. There are no penalties or fines for not completing the survey, however, we encourage everyone to complete the survey to assist the Village in compiling accurate records so we can comply with IEPA cross-connection regulations. We ask and thank you for your cooperation with this program.