Tips + Tricks

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Water is vital to our survival, so the CBPU wants you to know some Water tips and tricks surrounding water conservation, the environment, and how to help you get and use water in a resourceful way. They have included some tips and tricks below, and are linking helpful resources here:

To Enable Backflow Prevention:

What is Backflow

Backflow is the reversal of the normal direction of flow which results in undesirable materials entering the water system. Backflow can occur whenever the water pressure is reduced enough to cause a vacuum or "back-siphonage." The same principle is involved when drinking through a straw. Some situations which may cause this include: watermain breaks or shut down for repairs, hydrants opened for flushing or fire fighting, undersized piping in your residence, or your water shut off for repairs. Another form of backflow, called "back-pressure" occurs when the down stream pressure becomes greater than the supply pressure. This can be caused by things like: pumps, boilers, and heat exchangers.

What is Cross Connection
A cross-connection is an arrangement of piping or appurtenances through which backflow could occur. Think of the items in and around your home which contain things you wouldn't want to drink, like: sewer lines, bathtub, mop bucket, etc. Any water connection to these items forms an avenue through which the contents may backflow into the drinking water system. There are numerous instances where this has caused illness and death.

Cross Connection Prevention

Cross connections are prohibited by State and local plumbing codes. Additionally, Michigan water utilities are required to have a cross connection control program. Our utility does have a comprehensive program for the inspection, elimination and prevention of cross connections in industrial, commercial and public facilities. However, like most utilities, the manpower is not available to carry out an effective residential inspection program. That is why we are asking you to help protect yourself and your neighbors by eliminating your cross connections.

Common Cross Connections

The most common cross connection(s) in residences are made with an ordinary garden hose. Hoses are used in a variety of potentially hazardous situations such as: chemical sprayers, laundry tubs, detergent aspirators, radiator flushing, flushing clogged sewer pipes, swimming pools, and many more.

Some other cross connections to look for include: underground lawn sprinkler systems, irrigation pumps, chemically-treated heating systems, water softener drain lines to sewer, water operated sump drain devices, non-code (siphonable) ball cock assemblies in toilets, shower hoses, and solar heating systems.

What You Should Do
You should become familiar with the water system in your residence. Look at every usage point and visualize what might happen if the flow suddenly reversed from the normal direction.

You can install inexpensive hose bib (faucet) vacuum breakers to prevent back siphonage through hoses. The drain line from your water softener can be shortened or suspended so that there is an air gap between it and the sewer pipe. In other instances, you may need professional assistance in determining the appropriate protection against backflow.

If at any time you suspect a backflow has occurred, notify the Coldwater Board of Public Utilities immediately.

Water Faucet

To Help the Enviroment: 

Use Water Wisely
Much of the water we use goes down the drain needlessly. One of the best ways to begin conserving water is to notice how much water you're using, then look for ways to use less whenever you can. Shut off the faucet while you're brushing your teeth or keep cold drinking water in the refrigerator rather than running the tap for cold water.

Fix Those Leaks
A slow drip from a faucet can waste as much as 100 gallons of water a day! That's water and money down the drain. Watch for leaks, fix them quickly and you'll save-water and money.

Check Into Water-Saving Fixtures
There are a variety of devices you can buy inexpensively, such as reduced-flow showerheads, water-saving toilets and appliances. Whether you're replacing old fixtures, building or remodeling, consult a plumber or a local hardware store for advice on water-saving devices.

Recycle Your Water
Before you send it down the drain consider recycling water for another use. Water your house plants with leftover drinking water, use the water from the kid's wading pool to water your outside plants. With a little creativity you'll soon be saving gallons of water.


The Coldwater Board of Public Utilities is doing its part to protect our environment by making it easy for Branch County residents to recycle mercury. Mercury is a silver-gray metal found in old thermometers and switches. It is extremely hazardous to our local lakes and rivers. The mercury from a single thermometer, if disposed of in the surface water, can pollute a twenty-acre lake. As the local environmental leader, the Coldwater Board of Public Utilities is encouraging all local residents to bring their mercury thermometers / switches or liquid mercury to the CBPU wastewater treatment plant (100 Jay Street) on Monday through Friday from 8 AM until 4 PM and on Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 8:30 AM until 4 PM for proper disposal.

Don't Forget

  • Thermometers and switches should be in zip lock plastic bags and liquid mercury should be in a sealed container.
  • Hazardous liquids or gasoline mixtures are not accepted.
  • Household batteries are also collected at Wal-Mart, Culy's Jewelry and the Henry L. Brown Municipal Building.
Frozen Water

To Combat Frozen Pipes:

Frozen water pipes are not life-threatening. However, frozen or broken water pipes do cause damage to homes each winter. If pipes in the walls are not properly insulated, they can freeze and rupture (an eight-of-an-inch crack in a pipe can release up to 250 gallons of water per day; soaking floors, rugs, and furniture). In order to prevent the mess and aggravation frozen pipes cause, one can practice the following steps:

Before Cold Weather

  • Locate and insulate pipes that most susceptible to freezing. These pipes are typically near outer walls, crawl spaces, or attics.
  • Wrap pipes with heat tape (UL approved).
  • Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside where pipes are located.
  • Disconnect garden hoses as well as shutting off and draining the water from pipes leading to outside faucets.

When it's Cold

  • Let hot and cold water trickle at night from a faucet on an outside wall.
  • Open cabinet doors to allow more heat to reach nu-insulated pipes under a sink or appliance near an outer wall. 
  • Make sure heat is left on and set no lower than 55 degrees.
  • make sure you and your family knows how to shut off the water in case pipes burst. Stopping the flow of water can minimize the damage to your home. Call a plumber and contact your insurance agent. 
  • Never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame torch.
  • Always be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.

If you cannot determine the cause of loss of water pressure during freezing conditions, call the CBPU's Water Department at (517) 279-4805 between 8 am - 4 pm (M-F). The water service may be frozen underground at the street during prolonged periods of cold weather, especially if there is little snow cover. In this case, give the CBPU Water Department a call and a crew will come to investigate.