Back Flow Prevention

In Ohio, the responsibility for preventing backflow is divided. In general, state and local plumbing inspectors have authority over plumbing systems within buildings while Ohio EPA and water suppliers regulate protection of the distribution system at each service connection. Water customers have the ultimate responsibility for properly maintaining their plumbing systems. It is the homeowner’s or other customer’s responsibility to ensure that cross-connections are not created and that any required backflow preventers are tested yearly and are in operable condition.  If a potential or actual cross-connection contamination hazard is identified, the customer will be required to eliminate the hazard and/or install an appropriate backflow preventer at the service connection and/or at the hazard.

Backflow Prevention (PDF)
Ohio EPA Backflow Prevention Brochure (PDF)

What is a cross-connection?

Any physical connection created between a possible source of contamination and any drinking water system piping.

What is backflow?

Backflow is the flow through a cross-connection from a possible source of contamination back into the drinking water system. It occurs when a cross-connection is created and a pressure reversal, either as backsiphonage or backpressure, occurs in the water supply piping.  Backsiphonage occurs when there is a loss of pressure in a piping system. This can occur if the water supply pressure is lost or falls to a level lower than the source of contamination. This condition, which is similar to drinking from a glass with a straw, allows liquids to be siphoned back into the distribution system.

What causes backpressure?

Backpressure occurs when a higher opposing pressure is applied against the public water system’s pressure. This condition allows undesirable gases or liquids from another system to enter the drinking water supply. Any pumping system (such as a well pump) or pressurized system (such as steam or hot water boilers) can exert backpressure when cross-connected with the public water system.

Health Risk of Cross-Connections

ALL cross-connections pose a potential health risk.  Backflow can be a health hazard for your family or other consumers if contaminated water enters your water supply plumbing system and is used for drinking, cooking or bathing.  Chemical burns, fires, explosions, poisonings, illness and death have all been caused by backflow through cross-connections.  Backflow occurs more often than you think.

You are legally responsible for protecting your water supply plumbing from backflow that may contaminate drinking water, either your own or someone else’s. This includes complying with the plumbing code and not creating cross-connections.

Commercial Customers

Backflow preventers may be found at any number of locations on your water systems. Typically, most commercial customers will have backflow preventers just after the water meter and also on wet fire protection systems. Lawn irrigation systems also require backflow protection. Note too, that there may be other water connections throughout commercial or industrial facilities that also require backflow protection.

Backflow preventers are the property of the water customer and the responsibility lies with the customer for annual testing and maintenance. The water customer must contract with a licensed tester to perform the required annual tests. Most local plumbers are certified to test backflow preventers.  The plumber, hired by the commercial customer to perform the required annual test(s), must register with Aqua Backflow, Inc. in order to submit the annual test.

Register with Aqua Backflow, Inc.

Aqua Backflow, Inc. is the contractor hired to oversee Bowling Green’s backflow program.  Aqua Backflow, Inc. is a national firm that specializes in cross connection control management. Aqua Backflow can be reached at 847-742-2296 with any questions. 

The Bowling Green Cross Connection Control Program is designed to safeguard public health.  We ask for your cooperation with our program, its enforcement, and any requests for information that come from Aqua Backflow or City staff.

Residential Customers

Residential backflow preventers may exist or be required on lawn irrigation systems, wet fire protections systems, hot water heating (boiler) systems, swimming pool fills, water features, etc.  Backflow preventers may also be required if there is another water source on the site such as a well, pond, river, etc.

  • Be aware of and eliminate cross-connections.
  • Maintain air gaps. Do not submerge hoses or place them where they could become submerged.
  • Use hose bib vacuum breakers on fixtures (hose connections in the basement laundry room and outside).
  • Install approved, testable backflow preventers on lawn irrigation systems.
  • Do not create a connection between an auxiliary water system (well, cistern, body of water) and the water supply plumbing.

Need more information?

Questions concerning backflow prevention and cross-connection control may be directed to the City's Water Distribution & Wastewater Collection Division by calling 419-354-6277 or to the Northwest District Ohio EPA Office by calling 419-352-8461. Questions regarding internal plumbing in the home may be directed to your local plumbing authority or to the Ohio Department of Commerce, Plumbing Administrator.