The Backflow Prevention Association of Australia (BPAA) recently heard about the state of the industry in the United States from Rick Fields, Director of Channel Management Waterworks for Zurn Wilkins, a brand of Zurn Industries LLC.
Fields updated the group on product innovations, trends in national and state-level rules and regulations, and inconsistencies in enforcement and maintenance. The Zurn director also called for improved industry education and training so that workforce capabilities can meet more complex technologies.
Fields also sounded a cautionary alarm about a potential threat to public health: backflow problems in homes.
“Backflow prevention should not be the domain of only commercial and industrial settings,” says Fields. “Because of improved data collection, we now know that the contamination of water distribution systems from residences is more common than the waterworks industry as a whole realizes.”
Fields cited a recent report issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Water Research Foundation: Determining Vulnerability and Occurrence of Residential Backflow. The report cited statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of waterborne diseases and outbreaks detected in drinking water supplies in the United States:
“Backflow of water from residences into distribution systems is probably more widespread than currently thought and is thus a potential public health concern for the water industry. Analysis of data from backflow water sensing meters has shown that backflow events occurred at a rate of 1.6 percent of residential services each month, with 5 percent of homes registering a backflow each year.”
Fields told the BPAA audience that both the United States and Australia has an opportunity to educate homeowners and the industry about the potential risks associated with residential backflow.