|Plumbers and the Protection of the Public Water Supply
Do you ever contemplate when you are using water where it
comes from and how your water's safety is ensured? Safe water is something that
we as Americans tend to take mostly for granted. Safe water is referred to in
the industry as potable water.
How many times monthly, weekly, or daily do you take advantage
of potable water? Go ahead, count the number of times you cook, drink water,
wash dishes and clothes, bathe, shower, or water your lawn or garden. Does the
number surprise you?
The delivery of safe potable water is important to us all. The
overall health that we enjoy as a nation is largely due to a safe water supply.
Whether it comes from your own well, a cooperative well, or a municipal supply,
there are strict rules and regulations that water suppliers and the plumbing
industry must follow.
The University of Southern California (USC) is the water
supply industry's research facility and is responsible for developing many of
the rules and regulations. These rules and regulations are to a degree contained
within water supplier guidelines and plumbing codes. By following these strict
rules and regulations hazardous conditions known as cross connections and/or
backflow conditions can be eliminated and the health of the public safeguarded.
A cross connection will occur whenever potable water comes
into direct contact with sewage or some other hazardous contaminant. Some cross
connections can occur when there is a break in an underground water line, an
unprotected hose left in a hazardous liquid, fire or landscape sprinklers that
Backflow can occur whenever the deliver pressure fluctuates
because of pressure differences (multiple usage locations). Backflow occurs
because there is a direct connection with potable water piping and an injected
or inherent hazardous contaminant. These backflow conditions can occur with
heating and refrigeration equipment, boilers, soda dispensing machines, fire
sprinklers, landscaping sprinklers and some types of medical equipment. Most
types of faucets, fixtures, appliances and equipment provide designed cross
connection or backflow protection.
Note the vertical separation between the water inlet of
faucets and the overflow level of the drinking fountains, sinks and bathtubs.
Even the internal design of the toilet, automatic washing machine and medical
dialysis machines are examples of both cross connection and backflow prevention.
The plumber is the person responsible for adhering to these
rules and regulations. If safe water is to be maintained we must understand and
support the plumber and the safeguarding of that potable water.
Almost forty years ago, a well-known manufacturer of plumbing
fixtures and faucets had a slogan and a poster. the poster depicted the profile
of a plumber standing in work attire. The caption read "The Plumber Protects the
Health Of The Nation". It is still the same today.