Learn more about our Backflow Prevention Program

Why is a Backflow Prevention Program important for New Orleans?

The Louisiana Department of Health requires that all water systems develop and implement a backflow prevention program to protect the public water supply from potential contamination. Furthermore, the Louisiana plumbing code requires that all internal plumbing system hazards be protected as well. As New Orleans’ water utility, SWBNO is obligated to ensure compliance with these regulations to protect the City’s drinking water.

Surveyors ware performing street-level canvassing throughout Orleans Parish simultaneously to identify potential or actual hazards on residential and commercial properties. Our surveying team will also examine satellite maps for evidence of potential cross-connections.

You may have gotten a letter in the mail that notifies the customer that an actual or potential hazard has been identified during the canvasing process. Follow the instructions on the notice to stay up to date with the current codes and regulations. Failure to comply will result in fines and may lead to termination of water service.

SWBNO is currently enforcing compliance to safeguard against backflow to better protect our shared drinking water system. With the launch of this program, SWBNO's goal is to assist property owners with achieving compliance by raising awareness and educating customers about the benefits of the program and ensuring they understand the risks and consequences of not addressing any existing cross connections.

What is a Cross Connection?

The previously mentioned codes require that protection from cross connections exist in all water and plumbing systems. A cross connection is a physical connection between the drinking water and a non-potable source. A non-potable source is any source other than the SWBNO supplied water. Examples include: a garden hose left in a swimming pool or pond, a lawn irrigation system connected to the customer's domestic supply, internal plumbing systems connected to industrial fluids, etc. The number of potential cross connections is endless.

What is Backflow?

Backflow is the reversal of flow from the intended direction. When backflow occurs, the potential exists for contaminated water, liquids, or substances to enter our public and private water systems through cross connections. Backflow can occur in one of two (2) ways: back-siphonage or backpressure.

Types of Backflow

Back-siphonage occurs when supply pressure in a water system (or plumbing system) drops or is reduced significantly. This can occur during a main water line break or a break in a customer’s plumbing system.

Backpressure occurs when the customer's pressure exceeds the supply side water pressure. This may happen when a customer connects a pump to their plumbing system or through thermal expansion in a customer's water heater.

Means and Methods of Preventing Backflow

The most effective method of preventing backflow is through education on the dangers of cross connections. For instance, every customer can reduce the risk associated with backflow by eliminating cross connections. The most common form of cross connections on residential properties is a submerged garden hose in non-potable water. This cross connection can be eliminated by simply filling the vessel (tub, swimming pool, ornamental fountain, etc.) with an air gap between the vessel and the hose.

We all play a part in keeping New Orleans's water system safe and healthy.

For extended information about our Backflow Prevention Program, please visit: Drinking Water - Backflow Prevention Program - Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans.

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