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Lincoln County

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What is “Backflow” and What Should Your Community Do to Prevent It?

Summer, 2011

When normal water supply pipe pressure is reduced, contaminated water (called backflow) may be drawn into
the distribution system. To protect water supplies, a device called a backflow preventer is used. The EPA requires water suppliers, supported by states and local municipalities, to test backflow prevention devices annually. Each city or county receives state drinking water revolving fund money; thus, backflow prevention programs are financially supported and required by law. Annual testing for homeowners costs ~$100 annually.

Larry Turbyfill, a principal at DLI Services in Lincoln County, states backflow prevention is an issue of “waste, fraud, abuse and a serious matter of public health.” As a certified backflow prevention tester, he has visited 25 NC counties and found over ½ to have no testing program at all. Some areas, including Cary, Greensboro and Asheville implement the testing program with a strong regulatory structure and annual testing. Other areas, like Caldwell County, have no ordinances.

According to Larry, the Public Works Director and County Manager in Lincoln County are both involved in the misappropriation of funds, which has led to a lack of backflow testing. County commissioners approved an ordinance limiting required testing to every 3 years, though no testing is currently being supported. One example is a Lincolnton drug manufacturing plant using municipal water through a 6” (ie, big!) water main with no backflow preventer! In late June, Larry will present his concerns to the County Board. CWFNC
will follow this issue closely and keep you up to date!

Larry Turbyfill can be reached at larrydliservicesinc@yahoo.com or 704-5340106. For more information on backflow (or o wake them up!) contact your local water department or your regional DENR office.