Backflow Incidents

Backflow Prevention Helps Protect Our Drinking Water

Backflow incidents in recent years like the ones below can threaten public health. As a community, our efforts to control cross-connections and to prevent backflow help keep our San Diego County water supply safer and more secure. When installed properly and maintained routinely, backflow preventers reduce the risk of water-borne health problems. While incidents of backflow do occur, they are happening less frequently. Click on dates for full stories, and please let us know if any links are broken.

August 10, 2018

Eagle – The Center District Health Department has received 20-25 reports of Eagle residents getting sick from the water in the Corrente Bello Subdivision, the CDHD said it was likely a gastrointestinal illness.

Suez water and residents discovered that irrigation water from a nearby canal made it into several homes in the subdivision and that people in the neighborhood were drinking contaminated water.

My fifteen-year-old was sick, I was sick, two of my daughters were sick,” said Karen Howell who has eight children. “I ran a bath for two-year-old and the water was brown.”

This neighborhood uses potable water for drinking, but they also have non-potable water that residents can use to water their lawns or their gardens, each home has what is called a backflow that acts as a fail safe to prevent the irrigation water from mixing in with the drinking water in the homes.

Suez Water discovered one backflow in the neighborhood that got installed backward and said that was the cause of tainting the water in several Corrente Bello homes.

“Since 2012 we have had three similar cases and in every case, it was the result of an improperly installed device by an unlicensed individual,” said Marshall Thompson the general manager for Suez.

Suez said they don’t install the backflow devices, those are the homeowner’s responsibility, however, Suez said it is important to get the backflow installed by a licensed company and to get it checked every year.

September 12, 2017

Alameda, CA
Residents and businesses at Alameda Point complained about the look and taste of their water. The Water District found a cross-connection between the drinking water system and a non-potable irrigation well. The City issued a Do Not Drink / Do Not Use order for 268 residents and over 60 businesses over several days. Samples from the irrigation well contained elevated levels of total coliform bacteria with no measurable disinfectant, but did not contain any e. coli bacteria. The Water District permanently disconnected the well.

December 14, 2016

Corpus Christie, TX
City-wide water use ban issued when asphalt plant workers reported brown, milky, sudsy water on several occasions. After multiple efforts by city crews to flush contaminated water out of pipes, it was found that there was no backflow preventer between the potable water supply and the chemical mixing tank. Water testing at various points around the city revealed no contamination beyond the asphalt plant.

November 2, 2016

Culpeper, VA
Backflow of Antifreeze from the fire sprinkler system of a business leads to water distribution system flushing. Residents warned not to drink or cook with the water even though the propylene glyco antifreeze is non-toxic.

August 4, 2016

Jacksonville, NC
Faulty backflow prevention device allows swimming pool water to contaminate drinking water lines. Boil water advisory issued while water district flushed lines and the backflow preventer was replaced.

July 28, 2015

Corpus Christi, TX
E-coli found in the city water was traced to a neighborhood of properties which have private wells and sprinkler systems without backflow prevention assemblies. Contaminated water was able to flow into the community water system from these properties because there was no backflow protection maintained between them and the water district.

July 21, 2012

Lubbock, TX
Power Outage leads City Officials to issue boil water order. Loss of power crippled water distribution pumps, resulting in low pressure and potential for backflow of contamination or pollution into the drinking water supply.

June 1, 2011

Somerset, Mass.
Hydro-Seeding Contractor direct connects to fire hydrant, pumping seed material and chemicals into water main, poisoning City drinking water system.
See also: The Herald News

May 29, 2010

Saratoga Springs, Utah
Illegal Cross Connections are the probable cause of a Bacteria Outbreak.
See also:

August 31, 2009

Lenexa, KS
Failure of Restaurant’s Soda Machine Backflow Preventer was suspected of sickening customers.
Update: Backflow Preventer failure ruled out. Former employee of Mi Ranchito Restaurant pleads guilty to charges of intentionally poisoning customers.

June 15, 2009

Boise, ID
Four Residents sickened due to faulty Backflow Devices; 120 people affected.
See Also: Boil Water Advisory

June 3, 2009

Anson County, NC
Cross Connection through Fire Hydrant affects about 300 people with contaminated water.

August 22, 2007

Chula Vista, CA
Eastlake Business Park tenants learn of Reclaimed Water flowing in Potable Pipes.