American Water receives Water Research Foundation grant for backflow monitoring project

American Water, the largest publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company, has received a grant from the Water Research Foundation to conduct a joint research project with Utah State University to measure the frequency of backflow through residential water meters.

Jul 11th, 2012

VOORHEES, NJ, July 10, 2012 – American Water, the largest publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company, has received a grant from the Water Research Foundation to conduct a joint research project with Utah State University to measure the frequency of backflow through residential water meters.

The project is titled, “Case Studies to Identify Occurrence, Accuracy and Causative Factors of Reverse Flow as Measured by Meters.” The total value of the project is $648,480, with $265,200 funded by the Water Research Foundation and $383,280 in-kind contribution from the research partners and participating utilities. American Water will directly receive $202,000 to pay for research costs.

“We are pleased that the Water Research Foundation has provided the opportunity to examine this important research topic,” said Dr. Orren Schneider, Senior Environmental Engineer for American Water’s Innovation and Environmental Stewardship department. “By examining and quantifying the rate of residential backflow occurrence we will be better able to determine if there are any associated public health risks. This project will also enable us to develop methods to monitor and fix the causes of these backflow events.”

Typically water flows from the water distribution pipe through the water meter into residential premises. “Backflow” occurs when the water flows backwards through the meter from the home into the drinking water system. Backflow is a concern because any contaminants in the household plumbing could be drawn back into the drinking water system.

American Water is partnering with Steven Barfuss, Research Assistant Professor, Utah Water Research Laboratory at the Utah State University, to monitor the occurrence of backflow as reported by “intelligent” water meters and to determine the accuracy of these meters as they flow in reverse. The water industry will benefit from this research by understanding how often water flow in residences reverses itself and ways to investigate and mitigate these occurrences.

The project team will consist of Dr. Schneider as Principal Investigator, with American Water Research Manager David Hughes, and Utah State’s Mr. Barfuss, as Co-Principal Investigators.

About the Water Research Foundation

Founded in 1966, the Water Research Foundation (Foundation) is an international, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that sponsors research to help water utilities, public health agencies, and other professionals provide safe and affordable drinking water to the public. With more than 1,000 subscribers in the U.S. and abroad, who provide 80 percent of the nation’s drinking water, the Foundation has funded and managed some 1,000 studies valued at nearly $500 million to help utilities provide safe, affordable, and plentiful drinking water.

About the Utah Water Research Laboratory at Utah State University

The Utah Water Research Laboratory (UWRL) is a stand-alone facility located at Utah State University (USU) on the Logan River, Logan, Utah. The UWRL operates within an academic environment and collaborates with government and private sectors to address technical and societal aspects of water-related issues, including quality, quantity, distribution, and conjunctive use. This is accomplished through providing more than 100,000 square feet of state-of-the-art laboratory, computer, and office space. Researchers within the hydraulic laboratory perform physical model studies and calibrations on all types of flow meters, valves and pipes in sizes up to and including 72 inches in diameter.

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