Backflow Testing

What is Backflow?

Backflow occurs when water is drawn back into your main water supply from another source. The water entering the drinking water system may be contaminated, and will remain in water lines until it is drained from another fixture in your home or your neighbors’. A serious health hazard could result when this contaminated water is used for drinking, cooking, or bathing. Locations in your plumbing system where backflow can potentially occur are called cross connections. Some examples of cross connections include:
 A hose connection to a chemical solution aspirator for herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers.
 Lawn irrigation systems.
 Water softeners.
 Hose connections to a laundry tub.
 Swimming pools.

How does backflow occur?

Backflow is caused by either backsiphonage or backpressure. Backsiphonage occurs when a vacuum is induced on a piping system, just like drinking from a glass with a straw. Any hose can act as a “straw,” allowing undesirable liquids to be
drawn through it. Backpressure occurs due to a drop in pressure from the water system, as illustrated by the cartoon below. It is important to note that a drop in pressure is out of your control and can occur at any time.

What should you do?

Cross connections are often deemed unlawful by city codes. The City of Wendells Ordinance 319 requires backflow preventers to be installed where cross connections may occur. These devices must be tested annually to ensure they are functioning properly. There are two types of backflow preventers: backflow prevention devices and backflow prevention assemblies. Both are designed and installed to prevent the flow of water backwards through a pipe. Besides commercial uses, they are commonly needed for home irrigation systems. In places where installation and testing of mechanical backflow preventers is not possible, an air gap separation is usually required.

Why do we need to test annually?

Backflow devices do not have an infinite life and are mechanical devices with working internal pieces. A piece of debris or calcification of water can cause the device to stop working. An annual test brings any deficiencies to light the City of Wendell has had backflow devices on parks and pressure irrigation systems for many years and has had to replace them periodically.

What happens if I don’t comply?

Because this program is mandated by DEQ, the City of Wendell has set its goal to 100% compliance. Citizens who do not turn in their backflow testing results by June 1 every year are subject to having their water turned off until backflow testing is complete. You are drinking the same water as your neighbor – we are all connected! Help keep your family and your community safe.

Who does the test?

Anyone who is a certified backflow tester can test your device. Many landscape companies will have certified testers on staff. Testers are required by the State of Idaho to be certified each year and their equipment has to pass state calibration testing. The City of Wendell does not set a price for testing. We encourage you to call a number of testers to determine who will conduct your test for the best price. The following list of backflow testers are licensed by the State of Idaho and have all done testing in The City of Wendell:

Backflow Testers