Questions & Answers

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Click on a question to find a brief explanation of its importance why the answer plays a role in determining whether backflow prevention devices are needed.


What type of business are you in?
The type of business can be a good indicator of the potential for water system contamination via cross connections. For example, some businesses such as car washes, laundries, dry cleaners, metal platers or reclaimers, hospitals, medical or dental offices, nursing homes, funeral homes or mortuaries, laboratories, food or beverage processing plants, restaurants, chemical plants, and food or beverage processing facilities, intrinsically use water in some fashion as part of their normal business operations. Some also use hazardous or toxic chemicals or work with sewer-connected equipment (autoclaves, cuspidors, aspirators, etc.). The introduction of a potable water distribution system into these types of facilities creates at least the potential for contamination via cross connections. The Village Code specifically stipulates that these types of businesses must be equipped with proper backflow prevention devices.

What is your principle use of water?
Water used as part of any manufacturing, industrial, commercial, or business process, aside from typical domestic uses such as lavatory sink or a normal flush toilet, creates the potential for cross connections. For example, a chemical plant may use water to compound solutions or clean vats. The point at which potable water is introduced to these processes is the point at which cross connections are possible.

Does your company use water in any manufacturing, industrial, or commercial process?
Facilities that use potable water as part of a processing operation can present significant risks to the water distribution system. This purpose of this question is similar to the reasoning behind the preceding two questions. It is pointed attempt to further clarify how water is used on the premises.

Does your company use any hazardous or toxic materials or chemicals in any kind of process?
The mere presence of hazardous or toxic materials or chemicals creates the potential for cross connections with the potable water system. This is true regardless of whether or not potable water is also used in these processes. Often, property owners or business operators don't realize how quickly and easily hazardous materials can be unintentionally introduced to their plumbing systems. For example, a temporary hose connected to a slop sink faucet and placed in an barrel that contains a residual amount of a hazardous material can become a cross connection as soon as the hose becomes submerged. This act might be considered an innocuous part of "cleaning up" after a manufacturing process but it could create a very hazardous cross connection. Consequently, premises with hazardous or toxic materials on site require backflow prevention regardless of whether actual cross connections are identified.

Do any hot water boilers, steam boilers, instantaneous heat exchanger water heaters, or steam generating facilities exist on the premises? These types of devices almost always have a plumbing connection and can easily be a source for unsanitary water or contaminants to enter the potable water system. For example, a boiler needs fresh water to "make-up" water lost to heating processes. If a backflow incident occurs, hot water, steam, or chemical additives used in the boiler can be drawn into the plumbing system.

Is there a fire sprinkling system on the property?
Fire sprinkler systems connected to the potable water system present a cross connection hazard because the water stored inside the piping network is usually stagnant and motionless for a very long period of time. Consequently, this water must be considered unsanitary and potentially hazardous to human health.

Does your fire sprinkling system use chemical additives?
Some fire systems use chemical additives to improve fire suppression or to prevent scale growth, corrosion, algae, and slime growths. The addition of these chemicals can create a higher degree of hazard because they could seriously injure anyone who consumes them following a backflow incident.

Is there a fixed lawn sprinkler system on the property?
Fixed lawn sprinklers can present a cross connection hazard because they present a nexus for lawn chemicals and fertilizers to enter the potable water system. For example, a small pool of water over a recessed sprinkler head can become saturated with chemicals used to control lawn weeds. During a backflow incident, this small pool of water, and its contaminants, can be drawn into the potable water system.

Are there any auxiliary water supplies on the premises?
Auxiliary water supplies, such as a private well, present a cross connection hazard because they create the potential for the potable water distribution system to become blended with water from a source beyond the control of the Village. If a facility is supplied by both well water and public water, the well water piping can easily be inadvertently, or intentionally, connected to the plumbing supplied by the public water distribution system. Generally, private well water is not tested, treated, or subject to the same stringent quality regulations as public drinking water systems. At the very least, the quality of most private well water must be considered questionable at best.

Is there a booster pump attached to any portion of the plumbing system?
Systems using booster pumps, whether for lawn irrigation, fire suppression, or to distribute potable water to higher elevations, present a cross connection hazard because they can create a situation whereby higher pressure in private plumbing can reverse the intended flow of water and force contaminants into the public potable water distribution system.

Are there any buildings taller than 2 stories on the premises with water service?
Tall buildings can have the affect of a mini-water tower or elevated tank. In a very abstract sense, they store water in their plumbing systems. This water must be constantly supported by potable water distribution system pressure. If a main break or other problem causes a drop in pressure, the water from tall buildings can easily be drawn back into the public water distribution system.

Does your company have any water-cooled equipment on the premises?
Any equipment cooled by water connected to the potable water distribution system creates an opportunity for contaminants such as bacteria, lubricants, or chemicals to enter the potable distribution system during a backflow incident. In some cases, water cooled equipment is also directly connected to sewer systems thereby creating an undesirable connection between the potable water system and the sewer system.

Are there any cooling towers or water storage reservoirs on the premises?
Reservoirs, cooling towers, and circulating systems may be heavily contaminated with bird droppings, vermin, algae, bacterial slimes, or with toxic water treatment compounds such as pentachlorophenol, copper, chromates, metallic glycosides, compounds of mercury, and quaternary ammonium compounds.

Are there any solar heating systems on the premises?
Most solar energy systems have a connection to the potable water distribution system. Some solar energy systems may also employ antifreeze solutions or chemical corrosion inhibitors. During a backflow incident, it is possible that these contaminants could be drawn into the potable water system.

Does your firm have any potentially contaminated or sewer connected equipment on the premises such as aspirators, cuspidors, autoclaves, specimen tanks, sterilizers, laboratory, or mortuary/autopsy equipment?
Connections between the potable water system and potentially contaminated or sewer connected equipment such as a cuspidor in a dentist's office create the opportunity to draw contaminants, bodily fluids, or wastewater into the potable water system during a backflow incident.

Do you have more than 1 service providing water to your building?
Multiple services to a single facility create the opportunity for the private plumbing to become looped and return water to the public water distribution system. Once potable water leaves the public mains and is beyond control of the Village, it cannot be returned to the Village-owned water distribution system.