Stupid Regulations

I received a postcard in yesterday’s mail.  The first paragraph reads:

“The City of Tallahassee’s Office of Cross-Connection Control monitors actual or potential backflow via cross connections with non-approved water sources.  We are committed to the quality of water delivered to our customers, and your drinking water remains clean and free of contaminants [sic].  Our records indicate that your backflow prevention assembly is due for annual testing.  Please have this test performed by a certified backflow prevention assembly tester who will forward copies of the test results to our office.  Failure to respond to this notice could result in discontinuance of your water service.”

The remainder of the postcard explains how I can locate a city-approved certified tester, cites sections of the Florida Administrative Code and City of Tallahassee Code Ordinances, and concludes, “Thank you for your cooperation in this important matter for our community.”

I have lived in the same house in Tallahassee for 25 years and have never had my “backflow prevention assembly” tested.  I don’t even know whether I have one.  Why am I required to have this test now?

I don’t see how this can be a problem.  First, the city water lines are under pressure, so the water only flows one way.  As long as the pressure is maintained in the city lines, how there can be any backflow?  Second, all the water in the lines in my house came from the city line, so even if there was backflow, it would just be water that came from the city mains going back that way.  Where is the problem?

If someone knows more about water systems than I do, feel free to explain to me why this testing, which hasn’t been done in the quarter century I’ve lived in this house, is in the public interest now.  I know this is a minor issue in the big scheme of things, but I am a blogger here at The Beacon, so I’m using this opportunity to carp about it.

My current plan is to throw the postcard away and do nothing.  Do you really think they would cut off my water?  My best guess is that nobody even checks to see if I comply.  I’ll let you know if anything comes of my passive resistance.

Randall G. Holcombe is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University. His Independent books include Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis (edited with Benjamin Powell); and Writing Off Ideas: Taxation, Foundations, and Philanthropy in America .
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