CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA (WWBT) - Chesterfield County recently sent postcards to nearly 10,000 property owners, alerting them to the need for a backflow preventer.
The small device is usually located along the side of a house. Two pipes are connected by the preventer: one pipe sends water from your local water supply, the other shoots water from the water supply into your irrigation system. In the middle there is a contraption that keeps the water flow from reversing and contaminating the drinking water.
Business for Liberty Lawn Services is picking up as residents prepare to crank on their irrigation systems.
"From just looking at it on the outside, you cannot tell," said Matt Fincher. "So you have to test it to make sure they're working."
In a few minutes, trained crews can inspect a backflow preventer.
But holding off on the annual inspection, which is required by the state, is a danger to everyone. Chemicals for your lawn could seep into your sprinkler system. If there's a loss in pressure, the contaminated water could flow back into the water supply.
With a backflow preventer in hand, Chesterfield County Utilities Department Director Roy Covington explained how it works.
"If you do have a reversal of flow or drop in system pressure, this device will block this entrance here," said Covington.
Homeowner Tracy Uliano is not running the risk. "About six weeks ago we got the postcard. So we decided to look into it," said Uliano.
Before the postcard the county sent letters and attached a message to the water bill. But Tracy never saw the memo. She never had her preventer checked.
"We could be drinking contaminated water for all I know," said Uliano.
Liberty Lawn Services will now check Tracy's system annually. It's a state requirement.
The state doesn't regulate the cost of the annual inspection which can range from $40 to $200.
If Chesterfield residents would like more information, they can contact the Cross Connection Control and Backflow Prevention Information Line at 804-748-1280 or visit the Chesterfield County Department of Utilities website for informational videos and detailed information about backflow prevention: www.chesterfield.gov/utilities