The Birmingham Water Works is required by law to establish and operate a backflow and cross-connection program mandated by the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Water and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management Water division.

 

Backflow Policy

 

 

Why Do I Need to have a backflow?

 

Backflow Questionnaire click here

 

How Cross-Connection and a secondary water source can lead to Contaminating the Water System

 Lacey Chapel, AL, 1986

One morning a resident of Lacey Chapel woke up and unknowingly took a shower that had sodium hydroxide in the system. Exposure to this caused the resident to receive blisters all over their body. Another customer in the same area who was washing their hair at the time received to the same type of chemical blisters from the exposure. The chemicals got into the system because a nearby chemical plant had a hose inside of one of their chemical tanks and a main break accord. Which in turn caused the chemicals to be sucked into the water supply system do to the back-pressure. If a backflow was on the property, this could have been prevented.

 

Backflow Incidents

 

Definitions:

Backflow- is a reversal of the normal flow of water

Cross- Connection- a physical connection between drinkable water and a liquid or gas that could make the water unsafe to drink (wherever there is a cross connection, there is a potential threat to public health)

Backpressure - when the customer's pressure exceeds the supply pressure.

Back-Siphonage- when the supply line pressure falls below atmospheric pressure.

 


Customer Safety

There are many things on a customer's property that has the possibility for exposure to cross- contamination that can not only harm the customer but also neighboring residents as well.

 

Garden Hose

The garden hose is the most common form of cross-connection that can contaminate the water supply. Here are a few ways that a garden hose can contaminate the water:

  • Connecting it directly to a garden sprayer to apply pesticide or fertilizer to the yard.

  • Connecting it to a soap and brush attachment to wash your car.

  • Letting the end of the hose sit submerged in a puddle or a pool of water.

You can prevent these things from happening if you attach a hose bibb vacuum breaker on the outside faucet that you attach your garden hose to.

 

Irrigation System

You may install/have and maintain your own irrigation system, but it's still up to the customer to have a proper and suitable backflow prevention assembly installed correctly on said property. Listed below are a few options that you, the customer, should be able to complete:

  1. If you do not have a backflow prevention assembly installed on said line you may contact one of the following companies that is on the approved tester list. They are certified testers and installers of backflow prevention assemblies. They also have been approved thru a credited backflow institution and have also been approved by Birmingham Water to do the job. (The Birmingham Water Works does not receive any profit from any tester who comes out to test and install backflow prevention assemblies)

  2. If you have an irrigation system installed you must ensure that a backflow is installed on the line. The backflow must be (USC) University of Southern California approved.

  3. After having a backflow installed, the backflow must be tested on an annual basis to ensure that the backflow assembly is still operating properly.

 

Swimming Pools

Swimming pools also pose a possible threat to the water supply due to the use of chlorine and other chemicals that can be used to clean the water. Many residences use a garden hose to fill up their swimming pool which is also a form of cross connection.

* Ground wells also fall up under this category and a backflow must be installed on the property.

 

Birmingham Water Works Role

The Birmingham Water Works role begins with good system maintenance and sound operations. Your public water system operator reduces the risk of backflow by replacing pipes before they break, taking steps to ensure that system pressures do not fall during periods of high demand, and asking for the cooperation of customers when there is a risk that system pressures could fall below safe levels.

Many public water systems also operate rigorous cross-connection control (CCC) programs of their own. They identify locations where the risk of cross connection is high and ensure that the proper measures are taken to minimize that risk. For example, these and other businesses would be required to install high hazard backflow prevention assemblies and have them tested by a certified tester annually:

  • Hospitals

  • Healthcare Facilities

  • Chemical Plants

  • Mortuaries

  • Restaurants

  • Car Washes

  • Sewage Plants

 

 

New Installation (Fire Services and Large Diameter Domestic Services)

 

Birmingham Water Works Board is now tap only for all fire services and conducts full installs on all 4" and larger domestic services. The Backflow Department requires certain information on the "front end" for proposed developments. This information will be required at the time an official application is made for the fire service.

Needed In Email Or Letter Format Specifically Indicating The Project:

  • Fire department demand - GPM _______ @ PSI _______
  • Fire sprinkler demand - GPM _______ @ PSI _______
  • Domestic demand - GPM _______

APPLICATION:

Someone will need to make an official application in person before we start the project review and begin estimating the cost of the project. That person will need to bring the following items:

  • Owner's contact name
  • Owner's contact telephone number
  • Owner's email address
  • Site address
  • Mailing address
  • Legal name to be on the contracts
  • Tax ID number
  • Site Utility Plan
  • Contact information for the customer that will be paying for the work (If different from the owner information)

 

LaTisha Battle will fill out the application form at the System Development Department Front Counter (3600 1st Avenue North - 2nd Floor), when you or a member of your team brings all the required items aforementioned. Once we receive the application Chris Kilgo, Backflow Project Coordinator, will start the official review.

 

Due to the increasing number of new applications within new developments, you can expect it to take at minimum one (1) month before you receive the Letter of Authorization and an Agreement back from us after your application has been accepted.

 

 

Fire Service Repairs

 

Another part of the Backflow Department is dealing with fire services. Backflow prevention assemblies must be installed on all fire service lines and any domestic service lines that are 2" and larger. If you have any problems with your fire service and it needs to be repaired you must contact Carolyn Morgan (244-4251) or Justin Kirkland (244-4254) to have the fire service shut-off. The customer is responsible for the repairs of the fire service as well as the upkeep and maintenance of the fire service which is stated in the contracts. The customer must also send a letter via email to either Justin Kirkland or Carolyn Morgan stating that they are giving permission for the Birmingham Water Works to shut off their fire service for repairs. The Birmingham Water Works Board requires a 24hr notice in advance before any repairs are made. If the valve in the street is not accessible BWWB will contact our valve crew to uncover the valve which may lengthen the time for the shut-off process to be completed.

Click on this link for a list of certified repair men to repair the Fire Service. I:\Backflow\Backflow Letters Info\FIRE PROTECTION CUSTOMERS.doc

*Birmingham Water Works Board does NOT receive any profit from the repairs being made. Repairs can only be made by a company on this list.

 

BWWB Backflow Department

Contact Information

 

Superintendent of the Backflow Department

Darrell Bronson - (205) 244-4258

 

Project Coordinator

Chris Kilgo - (205) 244-4255

 

Backflow Inspectors

Carolyn Morgan - (205) 244-4251
Justin Kirkland - (205) 244-4254

 

Backflow Customer Support Rep.

Carolyn Morgan - (205) 244-4251

 

Backflow Report Submission:

backflow@bwwb.org