Backflow Preventer Questions

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by Darryl G, Nov 21, 2012.

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  1. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,033

    The Water Pollution Control Commission (WPCC) and the District Health Department are both involved and have been for months, but all they do is test it, find comtamination and have it chlorinated. There are no sewers in the area, but there has to be a septic system somewhere. Presumably it's downgradient of the well or a good distance away...still a potential source but it's my experience that it's not very common for septic systems to cause fecal coliform contamination in the bedrock aquifer.

    I was actually in the enviromental consulting and engineering field for 15 years, mostly dealing with investigation and cleanup of contaminated properties. I did do some clean water work for water companies as well. I was able to get to the bottom of an issue relating to lead contamination in private water supply wells in my town a couple of years ago that paid consultants couldn't for years...I did it in about 2 hours. I'm acting as an advisor to one of the staff members of the WPCC at this point. Just trying to help since nobody else seems to have any ideas.
     
  2. cjohn2000

    cjohn2000 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 553

    Why is it people on a well always think they don't need a backflow preventer. It seems to me the odds of something happening on a well as opposed to clean city water go up.
     
  3. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 46,979

    If you got a wellhead and geese in close proximity, just figure it's a high-hazard situation. First of all, is the well casing above grade? If it isn't, get in a pro and make it so. You'll have to do it eventually anyway.
     
  4. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,033

    Ok, at this point I'm going to flag their irrigation system as a potential source and recommend they take a good look at it. You guys can keep going, but I have enough information at this point to confirm that the irrigation system is a potential source.
     
  5. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,033

    Not sure about the wellhead, as I said in my original post, someone was checking on that for me today.
     
  6. Mdirrigation

    Mdirrigation LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,514

    Check all the wells within 1/2 mile of the well in question that feed from the same aquifer , any well in close proximity could be a cause of the problem .
     
  7. cppendergrast

    cppendergrast LawnSite Member
    Posts: 107

    Right MD, get a picture of what is happening in the area. I subscribe to the Water Well Journal. It is a wonderful resource for every aspect of what we do, especially water quality. Its free..... A pro would set up a series of questions to be answered, one being a scientific method of discovering the source. I, in my limited knowledge of the situation, believe it might be the well, not the irrigation system. The source of the fecal matter has to be discovered. Install a backflow before the irrigation system, test the water in the irrigation main and then test the water prior to the backflow preventer. Keep backtracking. Be sure to consult a lawyer.
     
  8. Mdirrigation

    Mdirrigation LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,514

    A friend of mine is a well driller , had a similar problem , took them 6 months to figure it out 15 wells in the same area had contamination problems . They found a house that had a sewer cap on a abandoned well , the owner thought it was his sewer line , he was dumping his motorhomes black and grey water in it after he returned home .
     
  9. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,033

    Word just in...there are 2 wells...one for irrigation and one for potable use. They do not test the irrigation well. There is also a storm water catch basin in close proximity to the potable supply well...not a very good idea. The riser used to be flush with grade but was extended about 5 years ago.

    Again, at this point I'm just going to flag the irrigation system as a potential source and let them follow up on it. It's not something that occurred to them. I'm sure as hell not going to get an attorney either. But yes, they should test nearby wells too. The problem with bacterial contamination is that it's not as easy to backtrack to a source area as other sources of contamination. For something like gasoline or solvents, you get a distinct plume that fans outward from the source and reduces in concentration with distance. Bacteria are living things that can multiply by themselves, so the concentration detected may have little correlation to proximity to the souce area.
     
  10. cppendergrast

    cppendergrast LawnSite Member
    Posts: 107

    There is bacteria in all of it, you must know the allowable limits and types. Yeah, the lawyer thing is extreme but in the case here in Nashville 24 years ago, 1100 people got sick and the first four to take the country club to court got a million & a half each & Middle Tennessee got the EPA as a close partner for cross connection analysis & inspection.
     
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