Cross Connection Control Program
The Zeeland Board of Public Works is committed to protecting our drinking water system from contamination. One of the ways that contamination can get into the water system is through a cross connection. A cross connection can be an actual or potential connection between a drinking water supply and a source of contamination.
How can a cross connection occur?
For example, a drinking water line may enter an industrial facility and be piped to a chemical rinse tank. If a water flow reversal were to occur (due to a water line break outside, a fire next door, or similar), the chemicals in the rinse tank could be sucked into the drinking water system. This type of event is called backsiphonage. If the chemical rinse tank was pressurized at a higher pressure than the drinking water system, the chemicals could be forced into the drinking water system. This type of event is called backpressure.
Or suppose you are filing a pool with a garden hose, and the hose is submerged in the pool. If there were to be a water line break down the street causing a loss in pressure, the contents of the pool could be ‘vacuumed’ back into the water supply. This is another example of backsiphonage.
How can these be prevented?
Cross connections are prevented through either a physical separation or use of a backflow preventer. Physical separation means that there is a gap of air between the source of contamination and the water supply. In the swimming pool example, simply moving the hose so that it fills the pool from above the water line would prevent a backflow event.
A backflow preventer could be used to ensure that a cross connection does not occur from the chemical rinse tank example. This mechanical device, if properly installed and maintained, is designed to prevent contaminated water from entering the drinking water supply. There are many different types of backflow devices that can have different applications depending on the situation.
What are the requirements for testing backflow devices?
All testable backflow devices must be tested at set frequencies by a state certified tester, notifications will be sent when the device tests are due. A tester must submit device test data to the Zeeland Board of Public Works through our web portal: Submit Results No test forms will be accepted through email, mail or fax.
Certified testers will receive login credentials for the web portal once ZBPW has received documentation for tester certification and the annual accuracy certification for the tester’s test gauge, see Gauge Certification Companies. For more information, please see our Online Submittal Instructions.
Examples of cross connections:
- Lawn irrigation systems
- Fire sprinkler systems
- Cooling towers
- Soap dispensers
- Hose connections
- Food processing equipment
- Chemical feed equipment
- Laboratory equipment
- Mop/slop sinks
How is it regulated?
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) requires water utilities to have a cross connection control program. This is defined in Part 14 of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act. Additionally, the MDEQ has published a Cross Connection Rules Manual which more fully explains Cross Connection Control Programs. The Michigan Plumbing Code also has requirements regarding preventing cross connections
ZBPW has had a MDEQ approved cross connection program since 2002. This program is responsible for identifying and eliminating cross connections within our water district. To accomplish this, staffs inspect facilities and require testing of backflow preventers.
Water Inspectors conduct the site surveys of all commercial and industrial facilities. These surveys involve looking at all water lines, uses, and backflow devices. All testable backflow devices must be tested annually by a State Certified Tester as required by the Michigan Plumbing Code.
Who are the Certified Testers?
All testers must be certified by the Michigan Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors Association and by January 2018 all backflow device testers must hold ASSE 5110 certification to test devices in Michigan. All testing contractors must register with ZBPW to test backflow devices in Zeeland. Submit company info, tester name & test certification, and current year test gauge certification to email@example.com A list registered testers can be found here.
Please call the Zeeland Board of Public Works with any questions, (616) 772-6212
Residential Cross Connection Control Program
Residential customers of the Zeeland Board of Public Works Water System who have a lawn irrigation system will be required to have their lawn irrigation backflow device tested.
The updated MDEQ Safe Drinking Water Rules now require that all lawn irrigation backflow devices installed on the potable water system be tested at a minimum of every five years. This is to insure that the device is working correctly to protect the water distribution system from contaminates in the event that a backflow incident may occur.
A Pressure Vacuum Breaker similar to the one shown here is the most common type of residential backflow device on a lawn sprinkling system. However, some systems may have a Reduced Pressure Principle Backflow Preventer or an Atmospheric Vacuum Breaker installed. Customers using the ZBPW’s Water Supply for irrigation purposes and do not have the appropriate device on the system will be required to add the appropriate device or terminate the watering system.
As a homeowner, what is my responsibility?
The most common type of homeowner cross connections are underground sprinkler systems or unprotected hoses.
A hose bib vacuum breaker (HBVB) is a type of backflow preventer that is a cheap and easy way to prevent backflow of water through a hose. Special frost-free HBVBs are available for exterior applications.
Examples of cross connections:
- Hoses submerged in dirty buckets
- Lawn irrigation systems
- Water softeners
- Fire sprinkler systems
- Water-assisted sump pumps
- Hot tub / pool
- Toilet fill valve
- Outside faucets
With the recent changes to the MI Safe Drinking Water Act Rules the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has begun enforcing the inspection and testing of all lawn irrigation backflow devices installed at homes in the Zeeland BPW Service Area. These devices must be tested by an ASSE Certified Tester every five years to verify that they are working properly.
During the summer months we will be identifying backflow devices on all residential homes serviced by the Zeeland BPW. We have split our service area into five (5) sections showing when the inspection process will start in your area. Inspections will take place every five (5) years for each area. This allows us to update, change or add any new customers or devices. Starting in 2018 Zeeland BPW will begin mailing out information to residential customers educating them about this program and how the inspection and testing process works for you as our customer.
As part of this program a State Certified Tester will be required to perform the test(s) on your device(s). The Zeeland BPW requested a device testing price/bid from several local contractors as a means to cut costs for our residential customers. Each homeowner having a testable device will receive a Residential Testing Letter a FAQ’s Page and a list of Certified Testers including the tester/company that submitted the lowest cost for residential testing.
The testing requirement will remain active in the program until the homeowner decides to remove the lawn irrigation system from the BPW water supply. A homeowner has the right to opt out of the program by disconnecting the irrigation system from the BPW source by means of cutting and capping the waterline suppling the irrigation system. The homeowner will remain a part of the inspection process to be re-inspected in 5 years with or without any lawn irrigation system that requires testing.
If you have any questions see FAQs below or contact the Cross Connection Department at 616-879-2407.
FAQs – MDEQ Requirements for Residential Backflow Device Testing
What is a backflow device?
A backflow device is a mechanical device that prevents a backflow from occurring on the drinking water distribution system. Backflow means water of questionable quality entering a public water supply system due to a reversal of flow. At a residential home, backflow devices are typically found on an underground sprinkling system, a water assist sump, or a residential boiler.
You may have seen our staff in your neighborhood locating backflow devices.
Our staff will be in your neighborhood locating backflow devices installed on all lawn irrigation systems in the Zeeland Board of Public Works Service Area. If a backflow device was located, the information will be added to our program for testing the device in the future.
Why am I required to test my backflow device?
While testing backflow devices has always been required recent changes in the State of Michigan Safe Drinking Water Rules Part 399 have prompted the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to enforce the inspection and testing of residential backflow devices periodically to ensure they are working properly. Today more than ever we are all aware how necessary it is to protect our drinking water system.
How often does my device require this test?
Due to these recent changes in State rules, it is now mandatory that all backflow devices for underground sprinkling systems be tested every five years; all other devices require annual testing. You will receive notification by mail when your backflow device is due for the required testing.
Who tests my device?
Most plumbing contractors have staff that are certified to test backflow devices. As part of our program we will be soliciting bids from plumbing contractors in the area to test your device. Doing this keeps the contractor’s price low as they will be testing multiply devices while in your neighborhood and you as a homeowner don’t have to spend valuable time getting several quotes. The ZBPW was interested in making this program as easy as possible for the homeowner.
Do I need to be home for them to perform the test on my backflow device?
Typically not, as most devices are located outside of the home, but you need to make sure the water is turned on to the device and verify that the device is outside not in the basement or crawlspace. See “New Residential Cross Connection Control Program Requirements” for a picture of what your device might look like.
How long does this test take to complete?
Most tests can be completed in 30 minutes or less, unless repairs to the device are necessary.
What is the cost for the test?
Typically costs run approximately $50 to $120 per test. If repairs or replacement becomes necessary the homeowner will be required to pay those costs. The tester is also licensed to repair and or replace any defective devices and will give you an estimate if the device cannot be tested.
Do I need to submit any documentation to the city after the testing is completed?
The contractor will also submit the test results for your device through our website letting us know your testing requirements have been completed. The tester can also supply you a copy of the test if you would like one for your records.
What if I don’t use my underground sprinkling system anymore?
If you no longer are using your underground sprinkling system, you may opt out of this program by removing the device, see the cut and cap illustration. Just notify us so we can perform an inspection and take your device out of our record system. Periodic inspections every 5 years will be required after opting out.
Who can I contact if I have any additional questions?
You can call the Zeeland BPW Cross Connection Department at 616-879-2407. Leave your name, contact phone number and address and we will promptly get back with you.
Cutting and Capping Illustration
THE ABOVE DIAGRAM REFLECTS THE ABANDONMENT OR CUT/CAP OF YOUR IRRIGATION SYSTEM FROM YOUR RESIDENTIAL SERVICE CONNECTION
THIS PROCESS IS REVERSABLE UPON REPAIR OF AN UN-OPERATIONAL SYSTEM OR REINSTATING A
NON-USED SYSTEM FOR SALE OF A HOUSE.
THIS PROCESS PROVIDES ASSURANCE THAT THERE IS NO POSSIBLE CROSS CONNECTION WITH THE PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY BECAUSE THE CONNECTIONS ARE SERVERED.
A PLUMBER, IRRIGATION CONTRACTOR OR HOMEOWNER MAY REMOVE THE DEVICE.
WITH WATER OFF TO THE SYSTEM CUT THE PIPES BEFORE AND AFTER THE PRESSURE VACUUM BREAKER
REMOVE THE VACUUM BREAKER ASSEMBLY (STORE FOR FUTURE USE OR DISPOSE)
PLACE PLASTIC CAPS (THE DIAMETER OF THE PIPES) ON BOTH ENDS TO KEEP DIRT AND BUGS OUT
PLASTIC CAPS MAY BE PURCHASED AT YOUR LOCAL HARDWARE STORE
QUESTIONS?? – CONTACT THE BPW CROSS CONNECTION DEPARTMENT AT (616) 879-2407
Service Area Map Showing Inspection/Testing Dates