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This guide is intended for owners and operators of all public water systems serving fewer than 10,000 persons.
This guide discusses the importance of controlling cross-connections and preventing backflow occurrences from unprotected cross-connections in the water system.
Cross-connection - Any actual or potential connection between the public water supply and a source of contamination or pollution.
Backflow - The flow of water or other liquids, mixtures, or substances into the distributing pipes of a potable water supply from any source or sources other than its intended source. Backsiphonage is one type of backflow.
Backpressure - Backflow that occurs when the pressure in an unprotected downstream piping system exceeds the pressure in the supply piping.
Backsiphonage - Resulting from negative pressures in the distributing pipes of a potable water supply.
Cross-connections can occur at many points throughout a distribution system and a community's plumbing infrastructure. Cross-connections can be identified by looking for physical interconnections (or arrangements) between a customer's plumbing and the water system. Some specific examples of backflow incidents that can occur are:
Why is it Important to Have a Cross-Connection Control and Backflow Prevention Program?
Controlling cross-connections and preventing backflow is critical to ensuring the safety of your drinking water because:
What Do Cross-Connection Control and Backflow Prevention Programs Involve?
Cross-Connection Control and Backflow Prevention Programs vary by municipality. For more information, talk with your regional MassDEP drinking water program, Massachusetts' building code department, plumbing authority, and/or local health department. Cross-Connection Control Programs may involve:
Having a CCCP Plan approved by MassDEP,
Training water system personnel on hazard surveys, cross-connection identification, backflow device installation, testing, and re-testing.
Conducting cross-connection surveys of all commercial, industrial, institutional and municipal owned facilities.
Installing and testing devices that prevent backflow consistent with the level of hazard.
Periodically inspecting and testing devices and assemblies by Massachusetts certified backflow testers and allowing cross-connection surveys by Massachusetts certified cross-connection surveyors.
Retesting devices and assemblies that failed the routine testing.
Developing and implementing a public education program for residential facility owners.
Enforcing all Massachusetts requirements and rules governing a CCCP.
Complying with all record keeping and reporting requirements.
How Can I Start Implementing a Cross-Connection Control and Backflow Prevention Program?
You are responsible for ensuring that the water you provide to customers meets all federal and state standards and that the quality is not compromised within your distribution system. Developing a comprehensive Cross-Connection Control and Backflow Prevention Program is one way to ensure the quality of your water and prevent potential contamination problems in your distribution system. If you do not already have a program, consider taking the following steps:
Plumbing and Distribution System Operation Practices
Fire Hydrant Connection Procedures
The type of backflow that is most likely to occur in your system (either from backpressure or backsiphonage) and the related health effects will determine which backflow prevention technology is best for your water system. The available technologies are described briefly below.
Atmospheric Vacuum Breaker
Pressure Vacuum Breaker Devices
Double Check Valve Devices
Reduced Pressure Zone Backflow Devices
For more capacity building guides or more information on how to develop the capacity of your drinking water system contact MassDEP Drinking Water Program as follows:
DWP email address: Program.Director-DWP@state.ma.us
Boston / Main Phone Number: 617-292-5770
Michael Maynard: 508-767-2735 Michael.Maynard@state.ma.us
Yvette DePeiza: 617-292-5857 Yvette.dePeiza@state.ma.us
For more information on cross-connections please contact:
Otavio dePaula-Santos: 617-556-1085 Otavio.Paula-Santos@state.ma.us
This guide is based on an EPA small system guide. For a copy of the EPA guide or other EPA information visit the EPA website.