Backflow Prevention Is Serious Business

Backflow Prevention Is Serious Business

Prevention Devices Have Got Your Back


The U.S. plumbing code is designed to ensure that the water delivered to an irrigation system never returns to the potable water supply. But without a backflow prevention device, problems can occur, such as the following chilling tale:

A Backflow Horror Story

In December of 2016, the city of Corpus Christi, Texas, received a dirty water complaint from a large asphalt producer. Despite flushing the property’s water main twice, residents reported a “white sudsy liquid” flowing from their taps.

Because the asphalt company had failed to install a backflow preventer on its water line, the corrosive chemical Indulin AA-86 was entering the line whenever water pressure on the property rose higher than the pressure in the main. This caustic emulsifying agent can burn eyes, skin and respiratory tracts. And 24 gallons of it had leaked into the water supply. Indulin AA-86 cannot be boiled out of tap water, so the city had to place a four-day ban on water usage until the emergency passed.

Degree of Hazard

“Degree of hazard” is a core concept in backflow terminology. It refers to the level of risk posed by a particular substance when it enters a water supply. An example of a low hazard would be food dye, which may be aesthetically unpleasant, but poses no threat to human health. Low hazard materials are also called “pollutants.”

Examples of high-hazard materials are motor oil, pesticides, fertilizers, and animal waste. These all pose a risk to human health, and are classified as “contaminants.”

Backflow incidents occur more often than you might think. That’s why an increasing number of municipalities are mandating the installation of backflow prevention devices – for residential as well as commercial properties.

Two Types of Backflow

There are two types of backflow incidents: backpressure and back-siphonage. Backpressure occurs whenever water pressure on a property becomes higher than the water pressure in the mains, forcing used water back into the system. Back-siphonage occurs whenever water pressure in the mains drops below that of the property, sucking non-potable water from the property’s water line and depositing it back into the mains.

Some backflow devices will prevent only one type of backflow, while others will prevent both.

A backflow incident involves three factors:

  1. A cross-connection between two water lines
  2. Hydraulic forces (either back-siphonage or backpressure
  3. A hazard, resulting in non-potable water.

Backflow Prevention Devices

While the public will be protected from any type of backflow device on a homeowner’s property, the homeowner himself will be protected by having a separate device for the irrigation system. Without it, the property owner could end up drinking toxins or water contaminated by bacteria.

The three most common backflow preventers are:

  • Pressure Vacuum Breaker (PVB) — the simplest and least expensive device; prevents back-siphonage only.
  • Double Check Valve Assembly (DCVA) – prevents both back-siphonage and backpressure; good for underground irrigation systems; not rated for conditions with a high degree of hazard.
  • Reduced pressure zone (RPZ) – most complex and expensive device; prevents both back-siphonage and backpressure; good for conditions with a high degree of hazard.

All of these devices work to protect the entire irrigation system. A fourth type of backflow device, the atmospheric vacuum breaker (AVB), is installed on each individual zone.

Become a Backflow Tester

The Ohio Plumbing Code requires that every backflow prevention device must be tested at least once a year. If you’re already installing these devices for your customers, why not go the extra mile and become a certified backflow tester? Backflow testing is a lucrative business, especially now with increased demand for greywater and rainwater collection systems.

Backflow Training Centers

Here are the locations of Ohio’s major backflow training centers:

Here’s the process for becoming a certified backflow tester in the state of Ohio:

  • Complete the Application for Backflow Tester Certification, provided by the Ohio Department of Commerce.
  • Locate a state-authorized backflow training facility. (See box at right.) You must complete about 35 to 40 hours of training and pass the practical exam before you can move on to the next step.
  • Pass the written exam, administered by the state of Ohio.
  • Once you pass the written exam, you will receive by mail a three-year certificate, and your name will be entered into the Ohio backflow testing database. After three years, you must be recertified.

Here’s how Sean Mullarkey, of TriState Water Works, explains the certification process:


Sources:
Featured Image: Adobe, License Granted
Irrigation & Green Industry
American Backflow Prevention Association
IrrigationRepair.com

Landscape Irrigation FAQs

Landscape Irrigation FAQs

Do You Have Ready Answers to These
Frequently Asked Questions?


Both customers and potential customers have a lot of questions when it comes to landscape irrigation systems. Here are some of the most common, along with our best answers.

Q: Why do I need an irrigation system? My area gets plenty of rain.

A: In Ohio, turf grass needs about an inch of water per week. So unless your property receives at least that much rain regularly each week, you probably need to irrigate. But nature doesn’t work that way. Even areas with rainy climates can experience dry periods. Your landscape can suffer damage after only a few days without water. You simply can’t count on annual rainfall to adequately meet your landscape’s needs.

Does Your Website
Need an FAQ Page?

Most digital marketing experts believe that an FAQ page can improve your website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and also help convert first-time visitors into customers.

Here are three reasons why you may wish to consider adding an FAQ page to your site:

  • It improves user experience. Users looking for a quick answer to an easy question do not want to comb through pages of information. An FAQ page offers them a central place to find their answers. Be sure to keep answers concise and include links to more detailed information elsewhere on your website.
  • It helps establish customer trust. An FAQ page demonstrates to customers (and potential customers) that you are invested in helping them find solutions. It also helps to distinguish you as an authority within your industry, contributing to customer confidence.
  • It provides customer insight. By identifying common questions your customer may have, you’ll develop a deeper insight into their needs, desires and challenges.

Sources: Trajectory WebDesign, WebSolutions

But an irrigation system also prevents you from overwatering your landscape. Too much water can be harmful to your soil, drowning your plants, encouraging root rot and other diseases, and causing weeds to germinate. An irrigation system puts you in control of the amount of water used on your landscape.

In addition, irrigation systems support hydrozoning, the grouping of plants with similar water needs into irrigation zones. These zones not only encourage a healthy landscape, but they can save both water and money.

Q: Will I save money by installing my own irrigation system?

A: Perhaps, but only in the short term. A professional irrigation contractor has years of experience designing and installing the most cost-effective and efficient landscape irrigation systems. Most have received specialized training and certifications, and they utilize specialized equipment to significantly reduce installation time.

Most homeowners are not knowledgeable about the numerous factors that must be taken into account when designing and installing an irrigation system. Soil conditions, land grade, plant location and sun exposure all must be considered for proper installation. Are you proficient in PVC piping, valves, controllers, drip lines, sprinkler heads, and all the other system components? Probably not.

A properly designed and installed landscape irrigation system requires a professional in order to save money (and headaches) down the road.

Q: Why do I need to shut down my irrigation system for winter?

A: When water freezes, it expands. Irrigation system pipes are not buried beneath the frost line. If all of the water is not removed from your system’s pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads before the first deep freeze, your pipes will crack, resulting in costly repairs.  

Winterizing your system is a job best left to the professionals. Attempting to blow out your own sprinkler lines using an inadequate air compressor can result in water left in pipes. When this happens, you can expect freeze damage that must be repaired before spring startup.

Q: What’s the advantage of a smart irrigation system?

A: A smart irrigation system will you save you both time and money. Smart systems optimize your sprinkler run time. That means they always water at the right time of day for the right duration and according to weather conditions. They keep you from overwatering, which not only wastes water and money, but can damage plants.

With a smart system, you won’t have to make manual adjustments to your irrigation system due to unpredictable weather. A smart irrigation system can also shut itself down whenever a leak is detected.

–Article Continues Below–

Q: Will I have to shut off my irrigation system when it rains?

A: Most irrigation contractors will recommend installation of a rain sensor. This device will automatically turn the irrigation system off whenever rainfall occurs. Once the rain ends, the sensor dries out and is reset. So, even if you’re away from home, your system knows what to do.

Q: How does a drip irrigation system compare to an above-ground sprinkler?

A: As opposed to sprinkler heads which spray a planted area above ground, drip systems soak the ground via tubes that are buried just below the surface. The emitters within the tubes slowly deliver water directly to the base of the plants.

Drip irrigation is ideal for landscape beds with plenty of plants and shrubs, as it can help reduce the risk of plant disease  associated with high levels of moisture. Drip lines can be incorporated as a separate zone within a larger overall sprinkler system.


Sources:
Featured Image: Pixabay
Lawn and Landscape
Landscape Management
Irrigation Tutorials

 

Ohio Green Industry Advocacy Day – November 16, 2021

Ohio Green Industry Advocacy Day – November 16, 2021

Join Us November 16 at the
Ohio Statehouse for Advocacy Day!



Ohio Green Industry Advocacy Day is hosted by the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association (ONLA) and the Ohio Irrigation Association.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to network with green industry colleagues, meet with your state legislators, and make your voice heard on issues critical to irrigation professionals.

This year, our participation in this grassroots effort is more important than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched the state’s resources to the point where some agencies will have to resort to raising their fees. Since 2021 is a budget year, we can influence these discussions. 

House and Senate term limits mean there will be many new faces in the state legislature, as well as in committees and chairs. Let’s make ourselves known to them!

Free to Ohio IA Members 

Ohio Green Industry Advocacy Day is FREE to Ohio IA members who register by October 25 ($89 for non-members).

As one of the events sponsors, we’re counting on you. Legislative and regulatory advocacy is one of the key benefits of Ohio IA  membership which is strengthened by your active participation.

Advocacy Day provides a unique opportunity to build relationships with both green industry business partners, and members of the Ohio legislature and their staff. After all, who can tell our story better than you?

REGISTRATION

Free to Ohio IA members; $89 for non-members
(includes lunch)

What to Expect

The morning session will feature key legislative speakers, after which attendees will be briefed on discussion issues for the legislative meetings scheduled in the afternoon.

The afternoon meetings with elected officials provide an opportunity to discuss key irrigation issues (like water quality, water quantity, and environmental reforms) and state policymakers. Our legislators must hear from us in order to make informed decisions about issues critical to our industry.

Here’s a tentative schedule for the day:


Sources:
Featured Image: Pixabay
Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association

Reaching Young Minds with an Irrigation Curriculum

Reaching Young Minds with an Irrigation Curriculum

Free Irrigation Lesson Plans
Available for Educators


September means school is now in session across the state. It also means many elementary and secondary schools will be hosting back-to-school nights within the next few weeks.

You can help promote the irrigation industry to the next generation by taking advantage of parent-teacher meetings to recommend an irrigation curriculum. The following downloadable resources are free, easy to use, and provide an engaging way to teach students about the importance of water efficiency.

Grades 3-5

How Does Your Garden Grow?

In 2017, the Irrigation Association launched its elementary school lesson plan, “How Does Your Garden Grow?” Since then, the curriculum has been used by thousands of schools across the country. Activities within the lesson plan take students on a journey through the history and benefits of both landscape and agricultural irrigation.

Irrigation Association Teaching Kit. (Hover over image to enlarge text. Click to download.)

During the initial rollout, Irrigation Association CEO Deborah Hamlin explained the importance of the program. “Elementary school students need to understand that there is this great thing called ‘irrigation,’ and it puts food on our tables and keeps our communities green and healthy,” she said.

About YMI

Since 1978, Young Minds Inspired has been the leading provider of free educational resources for all ages.

YMI has created more than 2,000 programs for  a variety of learning centers, including schools, summer camps, public libraries, community centers and religious institutions. YMI’s programs are developed by curriculum experts and reviewed by a blue-ribbon panel of active teacher-advisors.

The materials are distributed free of charge to the more than two million teacher members of the YMI Educator Network.

Source: Young Minds Inspired

The IA curriculum was developed through a collaboration with Young Minds Inspired. (See sidebar.) YMI was responsible for translating IA’s irrigation facts into rewarding educational activities. The lesson plan includes a complete teaching kit as well as activity worksheets for three separate subject areas:

  1. How Does Your Landscape Grow?
  2. Water on the Move
  3. Helping the Harvest

For more information about the IA’s elementary school curriculum, as well as some additional resources, click here.

Grades 3-6

Explorations Into Water

Our friends at Rain Bird offer a 34-page irrigation curriculum, titled “Explorations Into Water.” For this program, Rain Bird partnered with Dr. Stefanie Saccoman from California State Polytechnic University to create a lesson plan that motivates students to consider the part each of them plays when using and conserving water.

The curriculum explores water efficiency issues and challenges, and helps students to understand how scientists and engineers perform field research and experimentation. The program connects abstract ideas and scientific concepts through classroom demonstrations and hands-on outdoor activities.

Rain Bird’s Teaching Curriculum. (Click image to download.)

Parents, as well as teachers, can use the Rain Bird program to create projects that illustrate scientific principles to school-age children in an easily understandable and meaningful way.

Subject areas include:

  • Investigations in Water Properties
  • Investigations in Agriculture, Filtration and Power Generation
  • Investigations in Sanitation – The Potable Water Supply
  • Investigations in Irrigation
  • Amazing Water Facts

For more information about Rain Bird’s teaching curriculum, click here.

Grades 6-12

Way to Flow – Water Irrigation

EGFI is a Washington DC-based organization committed to improving K-12 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. In conjunction with TryEngineering, EGFI has adopted a curriculum for older students called “Way to Flow — Water Irrigation.”

This program explores the ways civil engineering has addressed the need to move water from one place to another. Teachers facilitate two or three 45-minute sessions, during which students work in teams to design and build a rudimentary irrigation system. The system must be capable of moving two cups of water over a distance of three feet, and distributing it evenly into two separate containers.

The curriculum also offers several optional ideas for older or more advanced students, such as:

 Workforce Development

Is recruiting and retaining qualified employees  a challenge for your irrigation business?

The Irrigation Association’s workforce development team offers a variety of resources, including an Irrigation Career Link, where employers can post job openings.

For more information, click here.

  • Creating a more challenging project that splits the water into three destination containers, or adjusts the ratio of water differently between the two containers (e.g., 75% and 25%).
  • Creating the most complicated irrigation system they can imagine – such as a chain-reaction machine, which performs a simple task in a complex way.
  • Setting a budget for the irrigation system, with an assigned cost for each material that the students must purchase from the teacher.

To download the pdf of EGFI’s irrigation curriculum, click here.

Planning for Our Future

Irrigation principles can easily be incorporated into any educational curriculum that focuses on environmental responsibility. And by encouraging educators to include these lesson plans, irrigation professionals can help foster a generation of young adults who are not only committed to water efficiency, but who also may consider pursuing careers within the industry.

At the very least, today’s students could become tomorrow’s irrigation customers.


Sources:
Featured Image: Adobe, License Granted
Irrigation Association
Lawn & Landscape
Rain Bird
ECGI

They’re Back! A Return to Live Trade Shows

They’re Back! A Return to Live Trade Shows

Green Industry Welcomes the
Return of Live Events


As America begins to normalize in the aftermath of COVID, green industry professionals eagerly anticipate the return of live trade shows.

Still, these exhibitions could look a little different this year. Here are a few post-pandemic changes which trade show attendees can expect:

  • There may be fewer exhibition booths, with wider aisles, to accommodate social distancing.
  • There may also be limited to the number of attendees for certain events and pre-registration may be required for some presentations.
  • Plenty of hand-sanitizing stations, and masks may be required for all attendees at some trade shows, depending on location.
  • Some trade shows may incorporate a “hybrid” approach, offering both physical and virtual components.

Irrigation and green industry professionals are hailing the return of two particular live trade show events, GIE+EXPO (the Green Industry & Equipment Expo) and the 2021 Irrigation Show.

GIE+EXPO 

Dates: October 20-22, 2021
Place: Kentucky Exposition Center, Louisville KY

Touted as the green industry’s largest trade show, GIE+EXPO is more than ready to return after last year’s pandemic-related cancellation.

Warren Sellers, trade show manager, has stated that both exhibitors and attendees are clamoring to get back together in person. A recent survey revealed that 91% of landscape professionals who are past attendees are likely to attend this year’s expo.

Mutt Madness

The TurfMutt Foundation, through a partnership with the Kentucky Humane Society, will once again sponsor Mutt Madness at GIE+EXPO on Thursday, October 21, from 11:00 to 2:00.

Expo attendees can take a break from the show floor to visit and/or adopt rescue dogs in Freedom Hall. At the 2019 Mutt Madness, 15 dogs found their forever homes.

The 2021 GIE+EXPO will once again include:

  • More than 20 acres of outdoor demonstration area
  • Arborist and hardscape demonstrations
  • New products spotlight
  • Plenty of workshops and educational opportunities

Plus, new this year will be:

  • A UTV test track
  • A hands-on Drone Zone
  • Technology Summit presented by the National Association of Landscape Professionals

Of particular interest to irrigation professionals is the Irrigation Symposium, “Landscape Irrigation 2021: Opportunities and Challenges,” hosted by the Irrigation Association and scheduled for Wednesday, October 20. A panel of irrigation experts will share real-world analyses and solutions for the landscape irrigation industry. Cost for the session is $85 and pre-registration is required.


2021 Irrigation Show & Education Week

Dates: December 6-10, 2021
Place: San Diego Convention Center, San Diego CA

The focus of the 2021 Irrigation Show is connecting irrigation professionals with the suppliers of irrigation technology, products, and services via in-person networking. This year, there will be no keynote address or general session, and the traditional opening night reception will now be a Craft Brewfest, sponsored by Hunter Industries, on the showroom floor.

Education Week Seminars

Below is a listing of landscape irrigation seminars sponsored by Site One, which are being offered during IA’s Education Week. Click the course title for additional information.

Do the Math

The IA will be offering a FREE Math Tutorial on Tuesday evening, December 7. The two-hour intensive tutorial will provide a review of the most common formulas and calculations used when designing, installing, auditing and maintaining irrigation systems.

Beginner Courses:

Intermediate Courses

Advanced Courses

Business Courses (Intermediate)

Interested?

For all of the above-listed courses…

Certification Courses

In addition, from Dec. 7-10, the IA and Site One will be offering a network of in-person written certification exams for the following:


Sources:
Featured Image: GIE+EXPO
Express Business Center
GIE+EXPO
Irrigation Association