Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday approved a draft of a proposed ordinance that would help safeguard the city water supply from accidental contamination.
The purpose of the ordinance is to prevent the accidental backflow of tainted water into city lines, said Roger Coffey, the city's director of utilities.
It would require city water users to install special protection devices at cross-connections, the points where city lines meet pipes leading to sources of chemicals or unsafe water.
Accidental backflow can be caused by a sudden drop in water pressure that would suck chemicals or tainted water into city waterlines.
The city has required such controls on new construction for many years, Coffey said, but was required by new federal and state regulations to create a more comprehensive control plan.
ALTHOUGH THE ordinance focuses on "high hazard customers," such as factories, hospitals, industrial plants and mortuaries, residents also must heed the ordinance.
Potential cross-connection hazard areas include toilets, water treatment tanks, swimming pools, lawn sprinkler systems and hose outlets.
For example, attaching a pesticide sprayer to a garden hose constitutes a cross-connection hazard, said Coffey.
The proper protection for a garden hose that comes in contact with chemicals or sullied water is a hose bib vacuum breaker, which is available in most hardware or plumbing supply stores, said Jerry Thomas, city plumbing inspector.
The ordinance was accompanied by a five-year plan for educating the public on cross-connection hazards and implementing the controls.
ALTHOUGH finding all the cross-connections in existing structures is impossible, the plan says, the city will attempt to protect the water supply by installing a protection device where city lines meet the user's pipes.
Commissioners voted unanimously to direct the city staff to draft a copy of the proposed ordinance and place it on the consent agendas of next two commission meetings for first and second readings.
Although commissioners can pull items from the consent agenda for further discussion, the majority of the items are passed in one motion.
Anyone who would like more information on the ordinance or cross-connections can call the Lawrence Department of Utilities at 841-1600, Coffey said.