Protecting Your Drinking Water

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Keeping Tumwater’s Water Clean

Throughout the U.S., there are many cases of drinking water becoming contaminated as a result of cross-connections.  A cross-connection is a connection between the potable drinking water system and a non-potable substance.  This interconnection becomes a hazard when backflow conditions caused by a water main break, fire, pump failures, or increased demand, result in pressure losses and contaminants flowing into the City’s drinking water system. 

The City of Tumwater is committed to ensuring your drinking water remains clean and safe.  The Washington State Department of Health requires proper backflow prevention assemblies on all commercial properties and some residential properties that are connected to the city’s water system. 

This page contains information about cross-connection control and includes a link to a survey to help identify plumbing and other fixtures on your property that may be a potential source of backflow contamination.

What is Backflow?

Backflow occurs when the pressure in the drinking water system drops, siphoning water and any substances in it into the public water system.  This is called backsiphonage and may occur when there is an unusually high use of water in an area, such as firefighting or a broken water main.  Backsiphonage may also occur when a hose is left in a full mop bucket, or in a watering can containing garden chemicals.

Another type of backflow, called backpressure, occurs when there is a cross-connection with a container or pipe containing non-potable substances under pressure.  When the public water system’s pressure drops, the pressurized system actually pumps the material into the public system.

How is Backflow Prevented?

Federal law requires the City of Tumwater to protect our drinking water system from contamination caused by cross-connections.  The City regularly surveys all water system connections in the City’s service area to locate potential cross-connections, and determine which type of backflow protection – if any – is necessary to protect both the consumer and the water system.  You may receive such a visit as part of this program.

The goal of the City of Tumwater’s cross-connection control program is to protect the purity of drinking water we so proudly serve.  With your cooperation, the City’s cross-connection control program will help keep our water free from contamination and health hazards.

What are your responsibilities to help prevent backflows?

  1. If a hazard exists on your property, you must install a backflow prevention device in a manner accessible to both a certified tester and the City’s inspector.
  2. If you have a backflow prevention device installed, you must have it inspected and tested annually and you are required to submit the results of your test to the City.
  3. It is the property owner’s responsibility to maintain device, including providing freeze protection.  For guidance on maintaining your device, refer to the manufacturers guidelines.

Do you have a potential Cross-Connection?

Please take a few moments to complete the Cross-Connection Control Survey.  Your assistance will allow us to help keep Tumwater’s drinking water clean and safe.  Once submitted and reviewed, a Tumwater staff person will contact you regarding your site and discuss any potential cross-connections you may have.

Learn more...

For more information, please contact Dennis Winchel at (360) 754-4150 or by email.  

Additionally, the Washington State Department of Health maintains additional information on Backflow Prevention and Cross Connection Control.  Visit their website for more information.

Cross-Connection Quick References

Backflow Assembly Details