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A lawn sprinkler systems backflow preventer is a device designed to prevent potable (drinking) water from being contaminated with non-potable water in the event a cross-connection exists during a condition of backflow. There are two main types of backflow: Back Pressure and Back Siphonage. Back pressure is when pressure downstream of the device is greater than the pressure upstream. Water hammer is an example of backpressure. Back siphonage occurs when a vacuum is created upstream and water gets literally siphoned backwards. An open fire hydrant, or water main break can cause back siphonage. All irrigation systems installed are required to have a backflow prevention device.