American Water Receives Grant for Backflow Monitoring Process

Will work with Utah State University with funds from the Water Research Foundation

American Water, a publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company, announced that it 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 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 Schneider as principal investigator, with American Water Research Manager David Hughes, and Utah State’s Barfuss, as co-principal Investigators.

American Water

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