Cross-Connection Control and Backflow Prevention

Cross-Connection Control and Backflow Prevention

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This course, Cross-Connection Control and Backflow Prevention, outlines

  • the concepts of cross-connection and backflow; and
  • the techniques and equipment used to protect cross-connections and to prevent backflow.

Understanding these concepts is essential to protect public water supplies and to comply with federal and state regulations.

Cross connections are defined as actual or potential connections between any part of a potable water system and an environment that would allow substances to enter the potable water supply (AWWA 2015). They exist throughout potable water supply systems and individual plumbing systems. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cross connections and backflow incidents to the potable water distribution systems continue to represent a significant public health risk. Chemical and biological contaminants can be found in the potable water supply, causing widespread illness and diminishing public confidence in potable water supply.

To address these risks in the United States, the USEPA implemented the Revised Total Coliform Rule which in part requires states to document that each of their public water systems has an approved cross-connection control (CCC) program. US federal and state regulations require public water supply systems to implement a containment or premise isolation program for the purpose of protecting the public water supply from accidental contamination (USEPA 2013). However, little guidance is provided as to what constitutes a compliant program or what elements should be included.

While regulations are in place to address public water supply protection, they typically do not address plumbing systems on private property. State regulations often reference plumbing codes for the appropriate method of backflow prevention. Several plumbing codes address the method of backflow prevention required for internal isolation (i.e., point of use [POU]) protection, installation requirements, and testing requirements. The International Plumbing Code (ICC 2015) in the United States serves this purpose. 1

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