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Municipal distributors send clean water in one direction to homes and buildings. Waste water is carried away from homes through the Drain-Vent-Waste (DVW) network to the sanitary sewer and into the main municipal sewer line. Sewer backflows occur when sewage waste water reverses direction and backups into the home through the DVW pipes. Also known as sewer backups, sewer backflows pose a major health hazard to human surroundings when waste water gets into the clean water supply before re-entering homes and buildings. In the most devastating sewer backflow emergency reported, 1500 people become ill and 98 casualties died.
The one way flow of potable water is established as municipal distributors supply clean water to homes and buildings under high pressure, and we then release it by opening taps. Sudden heavy demand on the main water supply due to firefighting operations or water main breaks may decrease water pressure below that of sewage. A sudden drop in water pressure can back siphon waste water into the potable water supply, and re-enter local homes and buildings. Backflow prevention devices protect against lethal sewer backflows should water pressure suddenly drop below that of waste water.
The law decrees owners of commercial alternate water sources to install backflow assemblies in the points of cross connection between clean and waste water – in an effort to protect the public's potable water supply. Once a year commercial plumbers are summoned to maintain the various backflow prevention devices, and make sure that they are in good working conditions to withstand backflows.
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