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:
- Hoses submerged in dirty buckets
- Lawn irrigation systems
- Water softeners
- Fire sprinkler systems
- Water-assisted sump pumps
- Hot tubs
- Toilet fill valves
Industrial or Commercial
- 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.
As a homeowner you also have a 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. During a meter replacement at your home the servicemen may perform an inspection of your home to insure it is compliant with the current MDEQ Safe Drinking Water Rules and our Cross Connection Control program.
All lawn irrigation systems are required by law to have a backflow prevention device installed. Recent changes to the MI Safe Drinking Water Act Rules now require that all Underground Sprinkling backflow devices installed at your home be tested periodically to verify that they are working properly. In the future ZBPW may begin sending out notifications requiring the testing of your Underground Sprinkling device.
Please call the Zeeland Board of Public Works with any questions, (616) 772-6212