Ugly backflow installations revealed


Yikes! Sutherland found tees connected to the backflow preventer’s test cocks.

Every year the Western Canada Section of the American Water Works Association holds a photo contest in which they ask inspectors and plumbers from across the country to submit photos of backflow disasters waiting to happen. And the results are always, well, not good.

The WCSAWWA National 2018 Bad and Ugly Cross Connection Control Contest was no exception. Two photos were declared winners by the group’s Cross Connection Control Committee.

Backflow inspector Justin Bage of Winnipeg and Tayte Sutherland, inspector, cross connection control, for Epcor Water Services, Edmonton, submitted the 2018 winning photos.

Committee member Daniel Larson presents Justin Bage with a pressure differential gauge from Watts.

During an inspection at a manufacturing plant, Sutherland found the building did not have full premises isolation. The building’s water distribution was divided into two main feeds; only one of these feeds was isolated with a CSA approved double check valve assembly (DCVA).

“I noticed that premises DCVA had been ineffectual after distribution tees had been connected to the device’s test cocks. I immediately had a field conversation with the building/company representative and explained that the tees are a code violation and explained the workings and purpose of the DCVA. I also informed the building representative that the building did not have full premises isolation and presented a few options to correct the code violation and achieve full premises isolation.”

He returned two weeks later to ensure the recommended corrections had been done.

Committee member Dylan Gerlack presents Tayte Sutherland with a gift certificate.

Bage was asked to investigate water coming from a ceiling at a new building under construction. “I found two backflow devices, a reduced pressure zone assembly (RP) and a DCVA about 14 feet off the ground. The devices were not tested and there was no drain for the RP.” Construction debris was preventing the device from flushing and this caused the water damage. The remedy? “I moved the devices to code height, added a drain and tested and tagged.”

Backflow manufacturers Zurn, Watts and Conbraco provided contest prizes.

Tayte received a gift certificate from the manufacturers and Bage received a new pressure differential gauge from Watts.

“This year we had photos from across Canada and we are pleased with the interest shown,” remarked WCSAWWA CCC committee member Danny Wilson. “Our water industry representatives, inspectors, plumbers, and testers all share a responsibility to protect our water supplies. Cross connections do exist and are a potential to contaminate or pollute our potable water.  Let’s do our best to find and correct these cross connections before the damage is done. We are looking forward to another year of “bad and ugly” photo submissions in 2019,” he added.

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