BACKFLOW PREVENTION PROGRAM HAMILTON

BACKFLOW PREVENTION PROGRAM

Your drinking water flows from the city’s main distribution system onto your private property. When the pressure is lower in the city’s system than in your system, the pressure can pull bad water back to the city’s water distribution. This pressure is known as “Back Siphonage” or “Backflow.” The dirty water flowing back into the city’s distribution system may cause contamination.

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WHO DOES THE HAMILTON BACKFLOW PREVENTION PROGRAM AFFECT?

The Backflow Prevention Program was created by the City of Hamilton to protect the quality of your drinking water by ensuring that the appropriate backflow prevention devices are installed and inspected on private properties in the Hamilton region. These devices prevent contaminated water from flowing back into the city’s water system and can also be found in many other municipalities in Ontario. This program will not affect many people’s homes; however, it will impact approximately 15,000 commercials, institutional and multi-residential properties such as apartments, hotels, hospitals, automotive and manufacturing facilities etc.

Cross section of concrete and dirt, under a black backwater valve

Hamilton has stringent water safety guidelines and standards. Everything must comply with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). When Property owners began being notified in 2018, they were advised of compliance laws and timelines. Surveys would be administered, and backflow prevention devices would be installed following the Hamilton Compliance Regulations.

What Is Backflow?

Backflow is the water flow through a pipe opposite of what’s expected or intended. When this occurs, contamination may be drawn back into the City’s water distribution system unless prevented by a backflow preventer. Two types of backflow can occur they are backsiphonage and backpressure.

What is Backsiphonage?

Backsiphonage is a backflow caused by a pressure drop in the City’s water distribution system, which could pull water from the private property back into the City’s water distribution system. This can occur from a watermain break or excessive demand on the system, such as fire fighting.

What Is Backpressure?

Backpressure is backflow caused when the pressure within the private water supply system exceeds the water pressure supplied by the City’s water distribution system. This can be caused by booster pumps located on the property.

What Is A Backflow Prevention Device?

A backflow prevention device is an installation on a water service downstream of the water meter to prevent backflow.

The most reliable and straightforward way to prevent backflow is to provide an air gap. An air gap is an open vertical space between any device that connects to a plumbing system (like a faucet or valve) and anywhere contaminated water can pool or collect. An air gap has no moving parts other than flowing water. Many plumbing codes in Hamilton specify a minimum air gap distance required for various circumstances, such as a drain connection for a dishwasher.

Alternatively, a specialized backflow prevention valve may be installed in strategic locations in the plumbing system wherever there’s a risk of contaminated fluids entering the water supply pipes. These backflow prevention valves are used where there is insufficient vertical clearance or physical space to install an air gap or when a pressurized operation or other factors rule out the use of an air gap. Because these valves use moving parts, they are often required to be inspected or tested periodically.

Do single-family homes need backflow devices?

Single-family homes don’t need a backflow prevention device except for rare circumstances. While it’s important to note that backflow can occur from any property that is connected to the water supply – even single-family homes – the average residence doesn’t classify as what would be considered a moderate or severe risk.

A single-family home meets the requirements for low-risk status because it poses very little threat to the local water supply. Most single-family homes do not have equipment that would increase the risk of a significant backflow event. Most homes don’t have high volumes of serious contaminants that could flow back into the local water supply.

Even when it comes to multi-unit residential buildings, the bylaw only applies to properties with more than five units, which is only if all five units share the same connection to the local water supply.

When it comes to single-family homes, a backflow device may be required if there is an auxiliary water supply on the property. If you have something like a well connected to your home water supply, you may need to perform an assessment survey, and a backflow device might be required.

There is always a chance for backflow to occur on the property, which could contaminate the home’s water supply. Backflow could occur with something like a garden hose and then contaminate the water in the house. A homeowner could buy and install a hose bib, a simple backflow device that you can buy at most hardware stores. It isn’t required by law, but it could be an excellent measure to protect the drinking water in your home.

You may also prevent backflow on your property by consistently maintaining an air gap between water sources and whatever they might be filling. Your sinks have air gaps by their installation, but a hose can be placed in something like a bucket, tub or pool. When there’s no air gap between the source of the water and something like a hot tub, the water has the potential to flow back into the home’s water supply.

WATER TESTING AND SURVEYS

Water testing continues to be carried out on an ongoing basis to determine the severity rating of water contamination. The City of Hamilton’s Backflow Prevention Program requested site surveys every five years and annual backflow device testing. A qualified Ontario Water Works Association surveyor will conduct site surveys and install these devices.

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Our plumbers are qualified specialists and ensure that the Backflow Prevention Program in Hamilton is carried out with CSA and the City of Hamilton’s Compliance Regulations. If you have residential or business property with concerns about your water quality and possible backflow issues, Aquatech Hamilton can help guide you through this. Our licensed plumbers are continuously updated with plumbing codes and will be more than happy to assist you.

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