What is a cross connection?

A cross connection is any link between a potable water system and a non-potable source.

Can you give me an example of a cross connection?

The placement of the end of a garden hose in a child’s swimming pool while filling it creates a cross connection. Likewise, placing the end of a garden hose in a backyard fish pond or vehicle radiator creates a cross connection.

Consider a leaking water main below a roadside ditch that contains sewer septic tank discharges. Waste water can easily seep through the soils to the perimeter of the water main. If the water main is cracked or broken at this location, is this considered a cross connection? Absolutely! If the line is taken out of service due to a break in the line, the static pressure of the waste water may be enough to create a backflow incident. This scenario can and does occur.

What is backflow?

Backflow is the reversal of flow from normal operating conditions. Pressurized water systems typically flow from high to low pressure, ie, from the water main toward a home or business. During water main breaks, hydrant flushing, etc., main line pressure is reduced significantly and may approach atmospheric conditions. When this occurs, water from homes and businesses may flow back toward the main.

What is a cross connection control and backflow prevention program?

A cross connection control and backflow prevention program is a written document that provides for the maintenance and operation of a plan of cross connection control which will systematically and effectively prevent the contamination of the water distribution system.

Why does my water utility need a program?

Title 51 of the Louisiana Administrative Code requires that all owners or persons in responsible charge of water systems take all measures necessary to secure and ensure compliance with the code. The code further addresses the prohibition of cross connections and connections with unsafe water sources. The only sure way to document compliance with the code is to develop and implement a cross connection and backflow prevention program.

What is the penalty for noncompliance?

The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) treats noncompliance as a “finding” during sanitary survey audits. As such, the penalty may be up to $3,000.00 per day for noncompliance.

We’ve never had a backflow incident, why does our utility have to prepare a program?

While it may be true that your utility can claim to have never had an incident, there are no guarantees that an incident has not occurred. Since most backflow incidents are difficult to detect, the argument could be made that your utility has had many incidents that were not detected and/or reported. Furthermore, without a prepared and implemented program, it is difficult to defend the position that your utility is doing everything it can to prevent potential contamination of the water system as required by the code.

How are most cross connections created?

It is estimated that 90%-95% of all cross connections are created with a garden hose.

How can backflow incidents be prevented?

Incidents can be prevented by the development and implementation of a backflow prevention program, installation of approved assemblies, and education.

If there is an incident in my water system, who is responsible?

The Louisiana Administrative Code, Title 51, basically states that the owner is responsible for taking “…all measures and precautions which are necessary to secure and ensure compliance…” with the code. For municipal systems, this usually means the Mayor, Police Jury President, or Parish President, depending on the form of government overseeing the utility.

Does every service connection need some type of backflow preventer?

The answer is, not necessarily. DHH requires protection of the water system from high health hazard locations as a minimum. If the program is established only on state minimum standards, then it is probable that not every service connection will require backflow prevention. High health hazard locations include businesses such as, but not limited to, hospitals, nursing homes, mortuaries, car washes, etc. Non-high health locations typically include businesses such as, but not limited to, CPA firms, attorneys, engineering/architecture offices (without laboratories), etc. Residential properties usually are not required to have backflow preventers at the meter; however, the Louisiana Administrative Code requires hose bib vacuum breakers at all hose bib connections.

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