Tips for Maintaining Water Quality

It is important to make sure our water supply does not become contaminated. Water can flow two directions in a hose. If the water pressure in your area becomes lower than normal, the water can flow backwards. For example, if you had a hose submerged in a tub of soapy water and the water pressure became lower than normal, the soapy water from the tub could flow backwards through the hose and into your drinking water. The attachment of a portable pressure washer to a household faucet can be a problem if it creates a greater pressure than the water main supplying the house, because contaminants from inside the pressure washer, such as solvents, grease or detergents can backpressure backflow into the drinking water. Pesticides and fertilizers can be siphoned from a hose spray attachment if the water pressure in the main water line was reduced or eliminated. Such things as lawn irrigation systems, sprayer attachments, radiator flush kits, pressure washers, and the garden hose that are useful tools can be a silent hazard, because each of these water piping systems as well as swimming pools, hot tubs, and spas that are connected to our drinking water can provide a backflow link.

Backflow occurs when the water flows in the opposite or reverse of the intended direction. Always make sure there is an air space of at least two inches for the water to run through before it enters a container. For larger size pipe the air space should be 2.5 times the diameter of the pipe. To prevent water contamination, never submerge a hose in a bucket, pool, tub, or sink. Always keep the end of your hose clear of possible contaminants. Spray attachments should not be used without a backflow prevention device.

One inexpensive solution for homeowners is to install a hose bib vacuum breaker between your hose and the spigot. A normal flow of water opens the breaker. A reverse flow of water will close the breaker and any unsafe water will be prevented from entering the water system. The hose bib vacuum breaker can be purchased at the Erie City Water Authority Administration office located at 340 West Bayfront Parkway or at a hardware store. Before the winter freezing season, disconnect the outside hose from the faucet, and you can leave the hose bib vacuum breaker in place or it can be removed. There are a variety of backflow prevention devices available with different features and purposes. The Engineering Department of the Erie City Water Authority has a special program that has established procedures to control any potential backflow hazard, and they can be contacted at (814) 870-8000 Extension 205 or 207.