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Thu, Dec. 12

Backwater, backflow - it all comes back to preventing disasters

Q: What is the difference between a backwater valve and backflow prevention?-Larry from Prescott

A: First, let's detail exactly what backwater is. Backwater is the backflow of raw sewage from blockage in a sewer line that could result in flood damage to a residential, commercial or public property. Backwater flows can be prevented by properly installing and maintaining a backwater valve.

A backwater valve is a simple and relatively inexpensive device that is installed in your private sewer service line.

Backwater valves provide a physical barrier to prevent raw sewage from flowing back into your home or business and flooding the premises.

Regular maintenance checks must be performed to ensure the proper operation of your backwater valve.

Property owners are responsible for the permit, installation and annual maintenance of a backwater valve. Backwater valves and permits are required by the City of Prescott per City Code Section 3-6-2 IPC Section 715.1. It is important to review your homeowner's insurance policy to make certain you are insured against flood damage from sewage backflow. Backflow of raw sewage into a home or business can cause severe damage and can be very costly to clean up.

The major number one household practice that causes backflow of raw sewage into a home is when fat, oil or grease are poured down the kitchen sink or toilet. These items can stick to sewer pipes and may cause harmful clogs. Sewer line blockage can cause raw sewage to back up and overflow from a toilet, shower drain, washing machine, private cleanout or other household plumbing fixtures. These sewer flows can also flow into streets, creeks, lakes and other public-use areas, threatening public health and the environment. To prevent grease from building up and clogging sewer lines, never pour cooking fat or grease down the sink or other household drain. Instead, allow these substances to cool, scrape or pour them into a sealed bag or container, and dispose of them in the trash.

Backflow prevention is a program to prevent contamination of our area's water supply. There are backflow preventions devices such as a hose bib vacuum breaker. This is a frost-proof device that protects backflow at hose connections. This device is required on all new construction; it's relatively inexpensive and easy to install. Another device is the Reduced Pressure Zone Assembly (RPZ), which is approved protection for all hazards and is required for all new commercial site construction and irrigation systems.

An irrigation permit is required to install an RPZ. State law requires annual testing and certification of all these assemblies.

There are many possible sources of cross-contamination such as irrigation systems, swimming pools, laundry sinks, water softeners and outdoor hose connections.

The best management practices and tips to follow are:

1. Make sure you have a backwater prevention valve installed on your sewer line to protect your home. Perform regular maintenance and system checks on the backwater valve. If you require a plumber, always inform them you have a backwater valve installed to avoid damage of the device.

2. Never, never, ever-never pour fats, oils or grease down your drains.

3. Hire a licensed contractor to install a backflow prevention assembly for your irrigation system. This will prevent water supply contamination. Always winterize and protect the irrigation system and backflow device. Install a frost-proof vacuum breaker on all hose bib connections. Making sure you have these items installed on your home or place of business is a solution to prevention of serious and costly problems.

Q: What are some signs and symptoms of ornamental landscape diseases and how do we fight them? - Pat and Lou, Prescott

A: Sick, weakly and shriveled-up landscape ornamentals are not going to win you many accolades. The best bet to prevent foliar diseases is through good cultivation practice. The first step to keeping disease at bay is to select plants that are less susceptible to the most prevalent disease in our region. Your nurseryman or landscaper will be able to guide you. Make sure you plant ornamentals farther apart to encourage air movement; this helps prevent disease. Make sure you water right. Watering in the evening is an open invitation for disease. Give your plants plenty of time to dry. Try to resist the urge to go running for the fungicide. Make sure your plants are purchased from top-quality nurseries; their plants are grown in a quality environment, with no infected plant material.

Some signs and symptoms of disease include powdery mildew - this is a fungal disease that reveals itself in a white or light-gray powdery substance coating the leaves. Anthracnose is a disease that is mainly attached to deciduous trees. If you see irregular patches of dead spots on the leaf or if the leaves are curling, anthracnose could be the culprit. Scabs and spots are lesions that appear as dead spots on the leaves. Sometimes the dead tissue falls out of the leaf, leaving a spot that is a hole.


You are invited to our Let's Talk Breakfast event 8-10 a.m. Sept. 30 at the Hotel St. Michael in downtown Prescott. Come meet our team of experts and building officials from Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley and Yavapai County. Let's Talk - bring your questions and concerns.

The breakfast is free.

Call Sandy Griffis at 778-0040 to RSVP.

Yavapai County Contractors Association (YCCA) is a professional association representing licensed, bonded and insured contractors, suppliers, distributors and business entities. YCCA is your local resource for all of your construction, building, sustainability and basic technology needs. Don't start without us!

YCCA is pleased to answer your questions and assist you in obtaining information from local reliable companies and business owners. Call YCCA for more information on hiring a contractor at 778-0040.

Submit questions and concerns to or through and watch for your answer in the Friday real estate section of the Daily Courier.

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