American Water and Utah State University to investigate water meter backflow


Dr. Orren Schneider,
Senior Environmental
Engineer, American Water
Voorhees, NJ, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — July 11, 2012 – American Water and Utah State University are to collaborate on a joint research project to measure the frequency of backflow through residential water meters.

The total value of the project is $648,480, with $265,200 funded by a grant from the Water Research Foundation and $383,280 in-kind contribution from the research partners and participating utilities, including $202,000 from American Water.

“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 and principal investigator on the project. “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.”

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

American Water is partnering with Steven Barfuss, research assistant professor in the Utah Water Research Laboratory at 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.

Along with Barfuss, American Water research manager David Hughes is a co-principal investigator on the project.