History of Backflow Prevention – One of the first documented caseschicago worlds fair 1933
As long as there have been plumbing systems, there have been backflow incidents.  One such occurrence had an eerie similarity to our world today.  You might think that suppressing medical information and trying to keep a national health scare a secret is only from current events.  But that is exactly what happened back in 1933 with one of the first documented backflow incidents.  The World’s Fair was in Chicago touting “A Century of Progress” and people from all over the world came to visit the fair and see the rapidly growing metropolis of Chicago.
Unfortunately, city planners had long ago given up on quality plumbing practices.  The city’s water mains and sewage system were grossly undersized and poorly designed to handle the rapid growth, not to mention the additional visitors for t
he World’s Fair.  Two of the main hotels used to house the World’s Fair visitors had cross connections that badly contaminated the water supply.  The water was tainted with Amoebic Dysentery and infected nearly every occupant of the 2 hotels.  Stop me when this sounds familiar, but Amoebic Dysentery has an incubation period of 12-30 days, so symptoms and sickness did not show up until the visitors had returned to their homes.  Even when the first wave of affected residents started pouring into area hospitals, the local government tried desperately to suppress the sickness because there was still 3 months of the Fair remaining, and they didn’t want to scare away potential tourists.
There were nearly 100 deaths and over 700 documented cases spread over 206 cities in the US, and over 1,000 additional cases in the city of Chicago, all traced back to the water supply of the 2 hotels.  Given the time frame and lack of information sharing, it’s safe to say those numbers were only a fraction of the actual injuries resulting from those cross connections.

Protecting the water supply is as important today as it’s always been.  Fortunately, plumbing systems must meet the guidelines of the Clean Water Act, EPA, plumbing codes and best practices in today’s society.  Backflow preventers are our first line of defense against deadly cross connections, and even though they aren’t enforced everywhere in the US, we are constantly educating and improving our plumbing systems to prevent these events.

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CAPE TOWN - Strandfontein residents are taking legal advice after their water was contaminated.

Last week a public meeting was held where the City of Cape Town provided feedback to the community over a confirmed case of cross-contamination.

Recently, residents complained about a sewage-like odour when they opened their taps and the city declared the water safe for consumption last Sunday.

Strandfontein residents saif they do not trust the city to do the contamination investigation, so they will take it upon themselves.

During a community meeting last week, the city said cross-connection had taken place at a local sports field, but at this point, it cannot explain who is responsible or how it actually happened.

Residents were not entirely convinced and after the public meeting formed a task team to seek legal advice about the matter.

Strandfontein Ratepayers and Residents Association's Mario Oostendurp said more than 150 people had come forward to say they have fallen ill because of drinking the contaminated water.

Health Mayco member Zahid Badroodien said over two days, 24 people went to the local clinic but were not referred to hospital.

He said if private doctors are seeing a high number of patients with the same complaints they will refer it to the necessary levels.

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Red wine flows from taps in Italian town, brings 'a little lightness' amid coronavirus crisis

TORONTO -- For about three hours, red wine flowed from the taps of some kitchen sinks and bathtubs in a northern Italy town last week.

A valve malfunction at the Cantina Settecani winery south of Modena caused Lambrusco Grasparossa, a sparkling red wine, to seep into the Castelvetro town water system. Images and video shared on social media showed the wine flowing from kitchen and bathroom faucets. The wine was reportedly ready for bottling.

The lighthearted news comes during an anxious time for people in northern Italy, where more than 5,000 people have been infected with a novel coronavirus that has killed more than 200 in the country. The red wine valve malfunction brought some much-needed humour to the region, acknowledged Giorgia Mezzacqui, the deputy mayor of Castelvetro, saying Italy is in “full emergency” mode as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

“In moments when unfortunately there are few smiles… I am happy that in our small way we have brought a little lightness to people's hearts and thoughts,” Mezzacqui wrote in an email to

“I admit that we did not expect so much hilarity and within a few hours the news went beyond our borders, bringing smiles too.”

The deputy mayor added that the area has seen an overwhelming number of travel cancellations, which have impacted businesses in the region.

“We live in difficult times,” she wrote. “To survive we need everyone's help. I am therefore very pleased if the name Castelvetro is turning well beyond the borders. Who knows that one day someone will remember us and want to come and visit us.”

The municipality and winery said there was no threat to residents associated with the malfunction. “The accident did not involve hygienic or health risks: it was only wine,” a translation of the winery post on Facebook reads.

They later shared a video highlighting news coverage of the incident, writing with a laughing emoji: “And how do you prefer it, in the bottle or from the tap?"

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Officials: Water OK to use, drink in Neville Township

Officials in Neville Township, Allegheny County, have issued a warning to residents to not drink their water due to a backflow in the water system of approximately 2,000 gallons.
Officials said the content of the backflow was determined to originate from a fire suppression system.
The "Do Not Use Notice" has been lifted, but a "Do Not Drink Notice" is now in effect.
Bathing, hand washing, making ice, brushing teeth and washing dishes is not prohibited.
Water will be available at the Neville Island Fire Department on Grand Avenue.
Officials also said not to boil, freeze or filter the water since the content of the backflow is currently unknown.
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City of Denton Issues Boil Water Notice for Residents Near UNT

DENTON  (WBAP/KLIF News) – Some Denton residents are still under a boil water notice Friday.
The City of Denton issued the notice Thursday afternoon after staff at the University of North Texas notified the city of something strange about the water.
“We had a cross connection in our water system. In this case, a source of non-potable water was connected to our water potable water system. This connection did not take place by our city staff,” said the city’s Ryan Adams.
The cross connection stemmed from a storm water pond and the city’s public supply.
“In those cases, there is always a potential, even it its remote, for slight contamination of our public water system. In an abundance of caution, we issued a boil water notice and immediately isolated this area of our system and started flushing our system,” said Adams.
The notice affects residents south of I-35, north of Highland Park Road, west of Kendolph Drive and east of Western Boulevard.
The city said it plans to issue and update this afternoon. Officials are asking affected residents to check the city’s website and social media pages for information.
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Boil-water notice lifted in southwest Denton

Richburg issues do not drink order to public after herbicide discovered in water

RICHBURG, S.C. - It could be Monday or Tuesday before hundreds of people in Chester County can drink their water again.
The Chester Metropolitan District warned residents not to drink or cook with the water in Richburg because of concerns about a chemical herbicide that might have gotten into the system.
The concern comes from a small pond outside the company, Foot Print off of Highway 9, that makes packaging material.
The pond is a large water supply in case of a fire.   
An herbicide known as flumioxazin is put in the pond to kill algae.
Officials said that a backflow valve in the system failed, which is designed to keep the pond water out of the public water system.   
The failure may have allowed some pond water and possibly the herbicide into the system.
"I wouldn't encourage anybody to drink it until we tell you that it's safe to drink," said Fred Castles, who heads the Chester Metropolitan District. "We issued this warning out of an abundance of caution." 
Castles said the chemical is not considered dangerous, but they want to make sure there are still no trace amounts in the water supply.
The do not drink warning affects 250 customers in Richburg, which is about 700 people.
It does not affect residents on Highway 9.   
Utility company employees took bottled water door-to-door to residents and left more at the Richburg Fire Department for those affected by the advisory.
Gerald Hensley and his wife Patricia received some bottled water that was delivered to their door. He said that utility employees contacted them and explained the situation.
"They made real effort to contact people and these were live individuals that were making the phone calls. So, they were concerned that you weren't drinking that water," Hensley said.
Officials are flushing out fire hydrants near the plant and on the half-dozen streets in the area.   
The chemical herbicide is considered mildly toxic and looks blue in water, which makes it easy to see. 
Officials said that they found some blue water in the plant and at a residence but are still testing other places to be sure the chemical is not present.
"We've flushed for the last three days.  We've been sampling, and we're sending samples off tomorrow to California," Castles said.
He expects to have results by the end of the weekend. 
If they get the all-clear, residents will be contacted and told the water is safe.
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