Get your backflow device ready for testing
Spring is in full bloom, which means many local homeowners will be reconnecting the sprinkler systems to keep their lawns and gardens flourishing. It also means White House Utility District (WHUD) will resume its annual backflow testing program to make sure devices are working properly and keeping drinking water safe.
“Backflow preventers are an essential part of the water delivery system; they keep our drinking water safe by keeping unwanted water or other products — mainly runoff or chemicals used during irrigation — from flowing back into the main water lines and contaminating drinking water,” said Bart Hurt, cross connection coordinator for WHUD.
Homeowners with piped irrigation systems, commercial water lines, and residential and commercial fire lines are required to have backflow prevention methods or devices. While home- or business-owners are responsible for installing, operating and maintaining backflow prevention methods and devices, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) requires utility providers, like WHUD, to test these each year.
“During peak summer months, we could easily test 1,200 or more devices,” said Bart Hurt, supervisor of backflow prevention. “And there is a lot of coordination that comes with that since we have to temporarily turn off the water.”
There are a couple of ways residents and local business owners can ensure a quick and easy inspection:
- Notify WHUD if you do not plan to run your irrigation system by calling 615-672-4110.
- Be prepared for our visit. WHUD will notify residents of a general time frame in which their device will be tested. Residents can help by making sure the device is connected, with no apparent leaks, and is easily accessible.
Spruce up your sprinkler
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), residential outdoor water use accounts for nearly 9 billion gallons of water each day, mainly for landscaping. Of that, as much of half can be wasted due to evaporation, wind or inefficient irrigation systems.
“We see a lot of systems with broken sprinkler heads, poorly positioned sprinklers, and sprinklers running on rainy days – all of which waste a lot of water,” said Nick Gregory with White House Utility District. “We hope that by sharing these tips, people will be able to keep their lawns healthy and keep their water usage in check.”
- Regular maintenance is a must. Just like anything else, your irrigation system needs regular attention and care. Take time to check it thoroughly each spring to make sure everything is working properly and be sure to winterize it each fall.
- Use a WaterSense nozzle to restrict water flow. Designed with water savings in mind, these nozzles and sprinkler controllers will give your plants the water they need to grow and thrive while keeping your total water usage in check.
- Know your irrigation system. Whether your new home came with an irrigation system or you’ve added one over the years, most current irrigation systems run on automatic timers. Make sure you know how often they run, for how long, and at what delivery rate.
- Watch the weather. While timers or controllers can be helpful, it’s important to pay attention to the weather. If it’s raining, turn off your timers so you avoid wasting water.
- Timing is everything. In addition to watching the weather forecast each week, it’s important to know what time of day is best to water. Generally, it is best to water in the early morning and evening, when the sun isn’t too hot, to avoid wasting water through evaporation.
- Ask a pro. Irrigation consultants can help install, maintain or audit your irrigation system to make sure water isn’t wasted.
Other ways residents can ensure efficiency in their irrigation systems include:
- Using buckets to water small plants and shrubs, or consider collecting and reusing rain water;
- Watering from midnight to 4am to reduce evaporation loss; and
- Regularly monitoring irrigation usage.