Annual testing of sprinkler systems in Hailey will be required by Jan. 1 to ensure that they are equipped with devices to keep hazardous substances from entering the city’s water supply.
The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has set out testing requirements that must be met.
Backflow prevention devices prevent chemicals and other hazardous materials from entering the city’s drinking water when private irrigation lines break, or pressure drops enough in water mains for water to flow backwards into potable water lines.
“Anyone with an automated irrigation system needs to have one,” said Public Works Director Tom Hellen.
There are about 2,000 irrigation systems in the city that would be affected.
Under a new city ordinance if a backflow prevention device is found to be missing or malfunctioning, the property owner will have 10 days to have one installed or fixed. If after 10 days the problem has not been taken care of, the city will shut off the water supply to the property.
Hellen said there are about 2,000 irrigation systems in the city that would be affected by the new requirement next summer.
Many irrigation systems contain backflow prevention devices. The cost for annual testing is between $25 and $70, but must be done by a licensed professional.
Idaho Administrative Code requires that the city track annual inspections. The Uniform Plumbing Code places responsibility for annual testing on property owners or the person responsible for the property.
The Hailey City Council deliberated Monday on the possibility of using city staff to help meet DEQ requirements.
“It would take three employees to get it done on time,” said Hellen.
Another alternative would be to hire an independent contractor to test all the backflow devices in the city.
“I would prefer that the city inspect them,” said Hailey resident and Planning and Zoning Commissioner Geoffrey Moore.
A third option would be to allow individual homeowners to hire inspectors on the free market.
“I think we should let the free market roll with this,” said Council Member Pat Cooley.
Kelly West, a former Hailey Water Department employee, and licensed backflow prevention device inspector, said there may be a lack of trained personnel in the valley to get the job done each year.
“There are only three trained inspectors in town, and two of them are sitting here in this room,” he said.
The other trained inspector in City Hall Monday was Councilman Pat Cooley.
Discussion will continue on the issue at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 15 in City Council chambers in Hailey City Hall.