The responsibility of the Water Department is to provide the citizens of Niles with clean water. They must purify water as it comes from the reservoir, and monitor the various chemical and substance levels in the water to ensure the safety and health of those that drink/use the water. This department also must monitor stores of water to be sure that there is enough to provide to the city, that all modes of transporting the water from the reservoir and to the people are safe and in proper working order, i.e. pipes are secure and not broken or leaking, and to respond to water emergencies, such as a water main break.
The source for drinking water in Niles is the Meander Creek Reservoir. Meander Water treats approximately 24 million gallons per day of raw water, and pumps it to Youngstown, Niles, and McDonald. These communities distribute the water to residents and surrounding areas. Treatment includes chemical addition for softening, disinfection, fluoridation, taste & odor control, mixing, settling, filtration, and pumping. Niles distributes approximately 6 million gallons per day through 100 miles of pipeline to residents and sells water to Girard, Lordstown, Mineral Ridge, and portions of Howland and Weathersfield Townships. The water produced meets or exceeds State and Federal regulations.
The Mahoning Valley Sanitary District water system treats the water to meet drinking water supply quality standards, but no single treatment technique can address all potential contaminants. The potential for water quality impacts can further be decreased by measures to protect Meander Creek Reservoir and its watershed. More detailed information is provided in the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District’s Drinking Water Source Assessment Report, which can be obtained by calling John Nemet at (330)652-3614. The MVSD Meander Creek Reservoir Drinking Water Source Protection Plan is available at the meanderwater.org website by clicking on the link for Administration Public Records.
Niles Backflow Prevention Program
What is a backflow?
A water system depends on pressure to keep water flowing in the proper direction through the pipes. However, anything that causes a drop in water pressure can create a reverse flow from a homeowner’s plumbing system back into the public water system. This is called backflow.
For example, if you have a garden hose submerged to fill a bucket, Jacuzzi, fish tank, etc., and the water system suddenly loses pressure, the flow of water can be reversed, sucking any contaminants in that water backwards into the system.
A cross-connection is any physical connection between a possible source of contamination and the public water system. For example, if a homeowner or business uses a cistern or an old well for outdoor watering, it cannot in any way be connected to pipes that are connected to the City of Niles water system. Even with a valve in place, it is illegal.
Residents or businesses with an in-ground sprinkler or irrigation system will be required to have an approved, testable backflow prevention device on lawn irrigation systems (either a pressure vacuum breaker or a reduced pressure principle backflow device). They must also provide proof that the backflow prevention device has been inspected and tested by a certified tester annually. Most lawn irrigation installers and local plumbers can provide these services.
The City of Niles is permitted to conduct future inspections of residences or businesses connected to the water system and require the installation of backflow prevention devices as needed.
What are examples of cross-connections and backflow scenarios?
- Soapy water or other cleaning compounds back-siphoned into your water supply plumbing through a faucet or hose submerged in a bucket or laundry basin.
- A hose submerged in a swimming pool creates a pathway for pool water to enter your water supply plumbing.
- Fertilizers / pesticides back-siphoned into your water supply plumbing through a garden hose attached to a fertilizer / pesticide sprayer.
- Chemicals / pesticides and animal or bird droppings drawn into your supply plumbing from a lawn irrigation system with submerged nozzles.
- Bacteria / chemicals / additives present in a boiler system back siphoned into the water supply.
- A connection made between a private well supply and the water being supplied by a public water system through the water supply plumbing.
What can I do to prevent backflow?
- Be aware of and eliminate cross-connections.
- Maintain air gaps. Do not submerge hoses or place them where they could become submerged.
- Use hose bib vacuum breakers on fixtures (hose connections in the basement, laundry room and outside).
- Make sure toilets have anti-siphon ballcock assemblies.
- Install approved, testable backflow prevention devices on lawn irrigation systems.
- Install an approved, testable backflow prevention device at your home’s water service connection.
- Do not create a connection between an auxiliary water system (well, cistern, body of water) and the water supply plumbing.
Who is responsible?
In Ohio, the responsibility for preventing backflow is divided. In general, state and local plumbing inspectors have authority over plumbing systems within buildings while Ohio EPA and water suppliers regulate protection of the distribution system at each service connection.
Water customers have the ultimate responsibility for properly maintaining their plumbing system. It is the homeowner’s or other customer’s responsibility to ensure that cross-connections are not created and that any required backflow prevention devices are tested yearly and are in operable condition.
What is the law?
Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 3745-95 requires public water suppliers to protect their water systems from cross-connections and prevent backflow situations. Public water suppliers must conduct cross-connection control inspections of their water customers’ property to evaluate cross-connection hazards.
If a homeowner is found to have a potential or actual cross-connection contamination hazard, the customer will be required to eliminate the hazard and / or install an appropriate backflow prevention device at the service connection and / or at the hazard.
Backflow prevention is the process of ensuring that potentially hazardous materials do not contaminate the City’s water system through water lines.
As a water purveyor, the City of Niles is required by the Environmental Protection Agency and Niles Codified Ordinances to maintain a backflow prevention program.
Backflow prevention includes the review of building plans as well as inspection of local commercial properties to determine the degree of potential hazard to the city water system. If a backflow preventer is mandated, the City will inform the owner and provide guidance on the process.
Owners are responsible for the annual inspection of all backflow preventers. A list of certified plumbers/testers is available below.
To find a certified backflow tester in your area, please search the Ohio Department Commerce website in the “Look It Up” section. Select “Industrial Complaisance”, then select “Plumbing/Backflow”, then select “Certified Testers”. Type in the County you live in for a list of certified backflow testers.
To assist in protecting the Niles public water system, residents and businesses can report a cross-connection or backflow issue by contacting the Director of Public Service at 330-544-9000 ext. 1103.
Please see the following links to review the Ohio EPA’s rules and guidelines for backflow prevention, in relation to residential and cross-connection control. For more information contact the Director of Public Service at 330-544-9000 ext. 1103.
34 West State Street
Niles, OH 44446
330-544-9000 X 3101
Monday – Friday
8:30 AM – 4 PM