Elsie Kettenberg

Elsie Kettenburg is fully certified and licensed to test backflow assemblies.

WHITE BIRD -- Elsie Kettenburg recently saw a need and made the decision to run with it.

“The City of Grangeville called together plumbers and landscapers in the area for a meeting,” on the newly adopted cross connection control policy, the Basalt Landscaping owner said.

City council passage was unanimous at its Feb. 4 meeting for both an ordinance and policy establishing a cross-connection process of protections and testing for water systems – both private and public – serviced by the municipality.

The policy requires the installation and use of backflow devices and assemblies for users on the municipal water system where the potential exists for low-pressure or back-pressure situations resulting in cross contamination into the city water system. Assemblies will have to be tested annually and those results reported to the city. Failure to do so could potentially result in service being discontinued pending compliance.

The city has been working on developing the policy since last fall to come into compliance with state rules overseeing public drinking water systems. Prior to this, the city has relied on state building codes requiring cross-connection assemblies; however, no testing policy has been in place.

As no one in Idaho County was licensed to test the assemblies, Kettenburg decided to take the American Backflow Prevention Association (ABPA) certification class offered by Backflow Assembly Testing and Supply recently in Boise. Following the five-day class, which included a full day of testing, Kettenburg is now certified by the ABPA and licensed through the State of Idaho to test backflow assemblies. She paid for all class expenses and the equipment she will use to test the assemblies.

“I felt like it was a good area for me to become associated with and learn about because of my landscaping business and what this new level of expertise can do for my customers,” she explained. “And I will be able to offer my services to Grangeville residents and businesses as this new policy goes into effect.”

Kettenburg, a resident of White Bird, is certified to test backflow assemblies which are used in a variety of applications including sprinkler systems. but also encompasses anything hooked straight to a potable water supply such as commercial soda pop or coffee equipment, fire sprinkler systems and ice machines.

As she studied geology in college, she said she has an understanding of ground water.

“Water flows underground very similar to how it flows on the surface. Unless there is a confined aquifer, there can be a risk of contamination from one well to the others,” she explained.

Even private water systems should have backflow protection that is tested regularly.

Double check valves, pressure vacuum breakers and other assemblies are tested to assure they do not have back-siphonage or back-pressure contamination.

“Lawn sprinkler systems have recently been reclassified as high risk since people can put a variety of pesticides and fertilizers on their yards,” she explained. “So, it’s a benefit to everyone to have these devices tested and make sure water supplies remain safe.”

With a high-risk classification, only certain assemblies are acceptable to use for yard irrigation. Many homes will have the “Double Check” which is approved to be below ground, but is not a high-risk protection assembly. It is recommended in the future to install the Reduced Pressure Backflow assembly (RP) which must be installed above ground.

Normally, a testing will take Kettenburg anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.

“That’s if no special circumstances arise,” she said. “There may be some devices that have been silted in and need to be dug out to test.”

Homeowners and business are required to pay for the testing themselves; a tag will be placed on the systems to show compliance, and copies of the testing paperwork will be sent to the city and given to the homeowner. The tester will also keep a copy.

For questions or to have a system tested, call Kettenburg at Basalt Landscaping, 208-451-6326 or visit her website.

Brought to you by Basalt Landscaping, LLC.

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