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Backflow Questions and Answers
Below are some frequently asked questions concerning backflow and backflow control devices:
1. What is backflow? 
2. What causes backflow? 
3. What causes backsiphonage? 
4. What is backpressure? 
5. How can backflow be prevented? 
6. What is a backflow assembly? 
7. How is an assembly approved? 
8. Who is required to have a backflow prevention assembly? 
9. How do I know I need a backflow prevention assembly? 
10. Is there a general compliance schedule and process?  
11. Who can install a backflow prevention assembly? 
12. Where should a backflow prevention assembly be located? 
13. Who is responsible for the testing and maintenance of the backflow assembly? 
14. Who is BSI, and how do I contact them to submit test results?
15. How do I find an approved Certified Tester? 
 
What is backflow?
A: The Town of Cave Creek’s Water distribution system is designed to keep the water flowing from the distribution system to the customer. However, when hydraulic conditions within the system change from "normal" conditions, such as during a water main break, water flow can be reversed. When this backflow happens, contaminated water can enter the distribution system.

What causes backflow?
A: Backflow is possible in two situations, backsiphoning and backpressure.

What is backsiphoning?
A: When there is a sudden reduction in the water pressure in the distribution system, such as during water main breaks, or when a fire hydrant is opened, water flow can be reversed. This can create a suction effect, drawing water from your home, pool, horse trough, etc., into the Town’s potable water system. 

What is backpressure?
A: Backpressure is created when pressure in a nonpotable system, such as in a recirculating system containing soap, acid, or antifreeze, exceeds that in the potable system that provides make up water to the nonpotable system. This can force the potable water to reverse its direction of flow through the cross connection. Nonpotable substances can then enter the potable water system. 

How can backflow be prevented?
A: The Town of Cave Creek recognizes three methods of backflow prevention:
  • Air Gap
  • Reduced Pressure Principal Assembly
  • Pressure Vacuum Breaker Assembly

The Town of Cave Creek Utilities Department will determine which type of protection is required based on the degree of hazard that the property represents to the potable water supply.

What is a backflow assembly?
A: A backflow preventer is an approved, testable assembly which uses valves, in different configurations, to prevent polluted or contaminated water from reversing direction and flowing backward. 

How is an assembly approved?
A: An approved backflow prevention assembly has gone through an approval process at the Foundation for Hydraulic Research and Cross Connection Control at the University of Southern California. This is a two step process consisting of laboratory tests and a twelve month field test. Only assemblies approved by the USC Foundation are recognized by the Town of Cave Creek.

Who is required to have a backflow prevention assembly?
A: Federal and State law require that water suppliers protect their water systems from contamination. State regulations exempt single family residences used solely for residential purposes from assembly requirements, unless a cross connection exists, or the residence is used for other purposes. Commercial and industrial customers are also required by §52-215 of the Cave Creek Town Code of Ordinances and State Administrative Code rule R18-4-215 to install and maintain backflow prevention assemblies. (Copies of §52-215are available in the Town Clerk's office.) When a determination is made by the Town of Cave Creek Utilities Department that the potable water system may be subject to contamination through backflow, a backflow prevention assembly will be required. The Town of Cave Creek Utilities Department makes these decisions on a case by case basis.

How do I know if I need a backflow prevention assembly? 
A: A Town of Cave Creek field representative will visit your property to do an evaluation for backflow requirements. The field representative will determine if a backflow device is needed, and if one is needed, what type must be installed. 

Is there a general compliance schedule and process?
A: Yes. Unless you make other arrangements with Town of Cave Creek Utilities Department, the backflow assembly must be in compliance within 30 days from the date of the initial compliance notification. You will receive a follow up notice after 30 days. After 45 days, you will receive a notice informing you that your water service may be discontinued unless you achieve compliance. If at any time during this process you have a problem meeting this compliance schedule, it is extremely important that you contact the Utilities Department at 480-437-3581 immediately, and make special arrangements for an extension.

Who installs the backflow prevention assembly? 
A: The installation of the backflow prevention assembly is the responsibility of the customer. The assembly may be installed by a property owner, plumbing contractor, or a general contractor. Permits are required to install or replace these assemblies. Permits are issued by the Town of Cave Creek Building Safety Department. Please call 480-488-6622 for additional information on permits.

Where should a backflow prevention assembly be located?
A: The backflow prevention assembly must be located as close as possible to the water meter, on the customer side of the meter, on their own private property.

Who is responsible for the testing and maintenance of the backflow assembly? 
A: It is the sole responsibility of the water customer to ensure their assembly is in satisfactory operating condition at all times. A notice of the annual test due date will be issued to the water customer of record by our third party contractor, BSI, 60-days prior to the annual due date. The customer must contact a certified Backflow Assembly Tester to perform the test. If any repair work or maintenance is performed on the assembly, a certified Tester must retest the assembly immediately and submit the test results to BSI.

Who is BSI, and how do I contact them to submit test results?
A: BSI is a third party contractor that the Town of Cave Creek utilizes to administer our backflow program record keeping. All certified backflow testers need to register with BSI to be recognized by the Town of Cave Creek. All test results need to be uploaded to their website. Registration and test result uploading can be done at www.bsionlinetracking.com

How do I find an approved Certified Tester?
A: The Town of Cave Creek’s list of recognized Assembly Testers is available here or by calling 480-437-3581. Due to the fact that test prices vary among testers, you may want to call several Certified Testers to obtain quotes for your test.