The Waterworks Regulations state that a device shall be installed at each service connection where, in the judgment of the water provider, “…a health, pollution, or system hazard to the waterworks exists.” The ACSA believes this need extends to all commercial facilities but, to date, has not required a device to be installed at each residential connection.

The large majority of backflow incidents in residential neighborhoods involve the use of a garden hose in which the hose is used to spray fertilizer or weed-killer from an attached container, is used to bathe a dog or wash a car, and therefore may be immersed in a tub or bucket of water and detergent, is immersed in a swimming pool during filling, or is used in various other manners. For this reason, a state-wide building code has required all houses built since 1988 to have outdoor faucets within which a hose bib vacuum breaker is designed. This device prevents backsiphonage of the water within the hose to the potable water supply by means of a spring-loaded check valve. A significant cross-connection incident in Roanoke in 1979, in which the toxic insecticide chlordane was backsiphoned from a barrel through a garden hose into the city’s water supply, could have been prevented by this inexpensive device attached to the faucet.

If you do not have this type of outdoor faucet, the ACSA strongly recommends that you purchase a hose bib vacuum breaker for each of your outdoor faucets. These are available at any plumbing supply store and can easily be attached to your faucets. Even with hose bib vacuum breakers in place, care should always be taken when using the garden hose for anything other than watering and rinsing. In general, never leave a hose immersed in anything you would not want to drink.

If you feel you have had a backflow incident, or have any further questions, please contact Tim Brown at 977-4511, ext. 119 or at