In most respects, the quality of the water you drink is determined by the source of the water and the treatment it receives. However, you unknowingly may also play a role in preserving the quality of our water. If you have an in-ground irrigation system or pool, your role may be more important than you think! Check out the information linked at the bottom of this page.
For information on licensed Landscape Irrigation Contractors in Jackson County, check the Landscape Contractor's Board website. The records will indicate if the contractor is licensed to install backflow assemblies.
You might ask, how can your pool or irrigation system impact water quality? The answer involves "backflow." Contamination by backflow can occur when conditions cause water to reverse its normal direction of flow, causing tainted water to draw back into the household plumbing or the public water distribution system. This can happen when a hose is left in a pool, pond or cleaning bucket. And although serious backflow incidents are not common, they can and have occurred. In-ground irrigation systems are the most widespread potential sources of backflow.
Other plumbing systems associated with pool equipment, solar panels, fire sprinkler systems, and auxilliary water supplies such as wells are also required to provide backflow protection.
So, how can you protect yourself and your neighbors from a potential backflow hazard from your irrigation system?
Irrigation systems should always be equipped with backflow prevention device(s). This is required under state health codes. There are several types, which may be used in conjunction with irrigation systems. These include atmospheric vacuum breakers (AVBs), pressure vacuum breakers (PVBs), double check valve assemblies (DCVAs) and reduced pressure backflow assemblies (RPBAs).
Each type of backflow prevention device is subject to certain installation requirements to assure it will function properly. Understand the options, as some devices will not work in all circumstances. For example, some types must be located six inches to a foot higher than any sprinkler, which may be difficult to accomplish on a sloped site. We have brochures available that explain installation requirements. Also, make sure you obtain a plumbing permit to receive an inspection of your installation.
Have your backflow prevention device tested. Under state health regulations these devices (except AVBs) are to be tested after installation and each year thereafter. A current list of certified testers is linked at the bottom of this page.
The Medford Water Commission has long played an active role in verifying the proper installation and testing of backflow prevention devices, particularly for high hazard applications. Our program is now being expanded to better address residential in-ground irrigation systems. Clearly, there are an enormous number of such systems within our service area, and it may be some time before we are able to individually contact all impacted customers to ensure that their systems are providing effective backflow protection.
But you don’t need to wait for us to call on you. If you have an irrigation system, and haven’t included testing and upkeep of your backflow device as part of your yard maintenance tasks, we encourage you to do so. Remember, the people most likely to be endangered by a backflow situation at your house are those closest to it, which includes your family and neighbors. Working together, we can prevent this type of contamination from occurring.
If you’d like additional information on this topic, call: 541-774-2450.