How Backflow Causes Environmental Problems and How to Prevent It

It is an unfortunate truth that not all technological and industrial developments have included environmental precautions. Over the years, this has prompted a series of federal regulations on manufacturers and processing facilities. No regulations are more important than those regarding clean water — even if they don’t get as much attention or news coverage as other types.  One issue affecting clean water in relation to businesses is backflow. Backflow is essentially when a water source begins to flow in the opposite direction than intended. While this might not sound immediately threatening, it becomes so when there are cross-connections involved.

A cross-connection is a point at which a main water source is split. Sometimes this means a split between potable (drinkable) and non-potable water. Backflow with cross-connections can cause contamination problems within a population’s potable water sources.

Contamination like that can not only pose a serious health risk to citizens, but it can also have massive repercussions for the environment. As such, it is crucial that businesses make an effort to prevent backflow on their end as much as possible. Here are a few things to consider while finding sustainable alternatives for your business:

What to Know About Backflow

In order to best combat backflow issues within your business, it’s important to know as much as you can about this issue. That means knowing the causes and types of backflow you may encounter. By knowing what to look for, you can best know how to manage any issues within your company that may be causing backflow.

Each different type of backflow has different causes. For example, backpressure backflow is when water is forced backwards through supply lines. This is caused by a pressure change in the force moving water downstream so that it is no longer great enough to push water that direction.

On the other hand, backsiphonage backflow is the opposite of backpressure. Instead of a pressure increase on one end of the other, negative pressure occurs in a system pulling water out, like when you suck through a straw. This most frequently happens in private water systems, like when a toilet is installed incorrectly in a home or when a fire department plugs in multiple fire hoses during an emergency.

By knowing what type of backflow you’re experiencing, you can best solve for the issue. You can hire a plumbing professional or a wastewater management consultant to inspect your business and see which type of issue you may be facing. Maybe you need to adjust the pipes within your system, or maybe it’s as simple as re-installing a faulty fixture.

The Threat of Backflow

Water is a vital resource in any community — for people, plants and animals in the surrounding area. It follows, then, that it’s always best if a water source can stay untouched, but sometimes this simply can’t be helped. Sometimes, things like backflow can cause huge problems for a community and the creatures that live there. That’s why community water treatment systems are so complex and prioritized.

Most backflow problems are dangerous because of cross-contamination. This means that, regardless of the type of backflow, drinkable water can be contaminated with non-drinkable water. For example, maybe a drinkable water line experiences backflow that causes water from a non-potable source like an air conditioning unit to end up in the line.

This doesn’t just mean that contamination ends up in one plumbing line or one water system. Water naturally moves through various different systems — natural and manmade — until it reaches the ocean. So it’s possible contamination caused by a backflow problem could eventually reach distant bodies of water.

Not only does this mean that people and pets could consume dangerous chemicals from the air conditioning unit, but those same chemicals could end up in lawns, planter boxes, and drain out into the water systems around a town. Via this drainage, contamination can additionally affect plant and animal life that depends on it in a more natural state. We don’t want chemicals to drain out into streams or oceans anymore than we want it coming from taps in homes.

It is important to remember that water tables are a shared resource for an entire community. Even if you feel okay with risking some processes with your own water, you shouldn’t risk it for your neighbor and their business or family as well. It’s always best to find sustainable ways to prevent any potential contamination issues with your water usage, including backflow.

Ways to Prevent Backflow

Fortunately, thanks to improved regulatory requirements and increased awareness around environmental issues, many businesses are looking into sustainable ways to reduce their impact on their community. This means better internal programs as well as more precautionary measures to prevent any potential catastrophes. Some of these measures specifically address any risks to a community’s water table.

For example, companies can bring in consulting services specifically to help them ensure their wastewater procedures are as safe and sustainable as they can be. They can help install industrial wastewater pumps which are designed to prevent leakage or backflow of contaminated water into potable or natural sources. This can be especially crucial for large manufacturing facilities or companies that process or refine products using chemical compounds.

Finally, businesses can also work internally to educate employees and customers on the proper way to utilize drains, sinks, and toilets within the building. A simple sign reminding people to not flush items other than toilet paper can go a long way in preventing backups in drains that can lead to pressure changes or contamination. Testing water pressure on a regular basis is a great preventative measure. Additionally, installing smart devices that use less water than older ones can help reduce water usage for the facility on the whole.

Final Remarks

By being responsible in how you use water, you’re making sure that you leave the world a little better than how you found it. This is not only necessary to keep our non-renewable resources as long as possible, but for making sure the communities we operate within stay healthy and happy. As an operating business within a community, helping to ensure health and safety should be a priority rather than merely a requirement.

Salman Zafar

Founder at Blogging Hub
Salman Zafar is the Founder of Blogging Hub, and an internationally-acclaimed blogger, journalist, consultant, advisor and ecopreneur. His areas of expertise includes waste management, renewable energy, waste-to-energy, environment protection, resource conservation and sustainable development.
Salman is a prolific environmental writer, and has authored more than 500 articles in reputed journals, magazines and websites. He is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management, sustainability and conservation all over the world.
Salman can be reached on salman@cleantechloops.com

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