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Cross Connection And Backflow Prevention Program
And Its Impact on You!
 
Adopted in compliance with Chapter 341, Subchapter C, of the Texas Health and Safety Code & Section 290 Rules and Regulations, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
 
Proudly serving the Community of Dickinson since 1938.
 
Water Supply Protection Program
 
Galveston County W.C.I.D. No. 1 is adopting a mandatory cross-connection control program, in compliance with Chapter 341, Subchapter C, of the Texas Health and Safety Code and Section 290 of the Rules and Regulations for Texas water systems governed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.  These state laws are a result of the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
 
These rules and regulations have made it the responsibility of the local water provider to enforce the cross connection laws.  It is our intent to work with our residential and commercial customers in order that they comply with the following requirements in a timely manner. Section 290.44(h)(1) of the "Texas Rules and Regulations for Public Water Systems" states that: "No water connection from any public drinking water supply system shall be made to any establishment where an actual or potential contamination or system hazard exists without an air gap separation between the drinking water supply and the source of potential contamination."
 
No facility connection to a public water system is grandfathered from these above requirements.   It would be nice if drinking water contamination never, occurred, then no person would be adversely affected.  Unfortunately, an ever growing number of serious incidents have occurred.  Liability exists when innocent are harmed by contaminated water supplies.   As water system providers, public water supply systems have a responsibility to protect the water supply.   A very important part of this protection involves cross-connection control.
 
Local Authority:
The Water District has adopted a Cross-Connection Control and Prevention Ordinance.  The complete text of that ordinance is available to you at either the Water District Office or at City Hall. 
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Potential Cross Connections To The Public Water System Can Occur At The Following Locations:
Phase 1 High Health Hazard Locations
Auxilliary  Water Systems (Private Water Wells)
*Barber Shops
*Beauty Shops
Boilers
Building Using Booster Pumps
Chemical Plants
Commercial Establishments Serving Food/ Drinks
Convenience Stores
Dentist Offices
Electronic Plating, Film Processing & Metal Finishing Facilities
Facilities having Carbonated Fountain Machines
Funeral Homes
High Rise Buildings
Hospitals
*Laundromats
Medical Clinics
Nursing Home Facilities
Oil & Gas Facilities
*Piers and Docks
*Plant Nurseries
Residences
Restaurants
Sanitariums, Morgues
*Schools (Public and Private)
Veterinary Clinics
Wastewater Plants
 
Phase II: Low Health Hazard Locations
Apartments
*Barber Shops
*Beauty Shops
Churches and Synagogues
Lawn Sprinkler Systems
*Laundromats
*Piers and Docks
*Plant Nurseries
Residences
*Schools (Public and Private)
 
* Denotes possible high health or low health concerns.  The determination will be made by the Water Supply Specialist representing the District.
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Enforcement Action Required
 
Water service will be discontinued or disconnected after reasonable notice to the consumer if a violation exists on their premises.  Additional precautionary measures will be taken as are deemed necessary to eliminate any danger to the potable water system.  Water service will not be restored until the danger has been eliminated in compliance with Southern Standard Plumbing Code and the District's Cross- Connection Control Ordinance.
 
If a dispute arises with the Plumbing Inspector or the District's Water Supply Specialist concerning the Cross-Connection Control Ordinance, then the consumer has the right of appeal to the Galveston County W.C.I.D. No. 1, Board of Directors.
 
Actions that will be taken by Water District will include:
Inspect new and existing water services where high hazards may likely exist.
Require all water users to properly install and maintain cross-connection control devices when actual or potential hazards exist.
Require actual inspections and testing of mechanical devices in high health hazard services (at customer's expense).
Encourage water user's to notify the Water District about existing hazards or changes that may affect the hazard potential.
Develop and maintain a record system documenting cross-connection hazards, controls, mechanical devices, and inspection and testing program. (Records will be maintained by Water District.)
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Cross Connection Control
What is a cross connection? What is backflow? What is back siphonage? What is back pressure? Why do I need to worry about it? These questions are asked by our customers everyday.
 
Cross connection control is, simply a program that is designed to take the safeguards necessary to protect one of the world's most essential assets...water.  Only through education and the combined cooperation, of the public and the water district, can we insure a safe supply of drinking water.
 
After many documented cases of drinking water being contaminated or polluted, by both commercial and residential sources, rules and regulations were formulated and put into place. The single most significant problem hampering the elimination of cross-connections and backflow, is that little has been done to educate the water consumer about problems associated with cross-connections, backflow and back pressure.
 
Cross-Connection Control Is An Essential Component Of Safe Drinking Water Systems
 
Plumbing system cross connections, which have been defined as existing or potential connections between potable, safe to drink, and non-potable water supplies, continue to be a serious potential public health hazard across the nation.  Waterborne disease outbreaks have been controlled, but not yet eliminated.  Properly installed and maintained backflow prevention devices are critical elements of safe drinking water systems in our communities and workplaces.
 
There have been numerous historical, as well as recent incidents, where the backflow or back siphonage of contaminated water through a cross-connection has been the agent for contaminating a community's drinking water system, resulting in illness, the spread of disease, and death, along with severe economic repercussions.
 
The cross-connection problem is an ongoing dynamic one, because potable water piping systems are continually being installed and altered,  while water using systems and equipment which can contaminate a drinking water system often continue to be connected without appropriate, properly installed backflow preventer valves. 
 
An example of a cross-connection is a direct link between a household water line and a contaminated source, such as an ordinary garden hose, toilet tank, pesticides applicants, domestic sewage systems.
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Types Of Hazards From Cross-Connections
 
Most household cross connections are created by hoses.  Under certain conditions, the flow in household water lines can reverse and siphon contaminants into the water supply.  For example, using a garden hose to spray pesticides or fertilizers is normally harmless, but if the municipality's water system is interrupted while you are spraying, you may have a problem.
 
If water main pressure is reduced due to water main break or nearby fire fighting, a back siphonage effect is created.  This can draw water from your garden hose into your home water supply.  So, if you have a pesticide or fertilizer sprayer attached to your garden hose, the chemicals can contaminate your water supply.
 
There Is A Solution!
 
You can easily prevent back siphonage by installing inexpensive safety devices or taking a few simple precautions.
 
1. Antisiphonage ballcocks: Toilet tanks contain a ballcock device which allows water into the tank after flushing.  Older style ballcocks do not have an anti-siphon feature and can allow water from the toilet tank to backflow into your drinking water line (figure 1).  A simple anti-siphon ballcock (figure 2) installed with a one-inch air gap above the overflow tube will prevent contaminated tank water from entering your water supply.
 
2. Hose connection vacuum breakers: You can also prevent back siphonage by using an inexpensive, easy to install hose connection vacuum breaker (figure 3).  This one-way valve allows water to flow from the tap, but not back in.  Drainable vacuum breakers should be installed on all those connections which could freeze.
 
3. Air gaps: Leave a gap of at least one inch or two times the pipe diameter (whichever is greater) between the end of a hose and a source of contamination.  This eliminates a link between the two.  Never leave a hose where it can suck contaminants back into the drinking water supply, such as in a swimming pool, bathtub, sink or fish tank.
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What Is Backflow?
 
The term backflow means any unwanted flow of used non-potable water or substance from any source into the potable water distribution system.  In a backflow condition, water is flowing in the opposite direction of its normal flow.  With the direction of flow reversed, due to a change in pressures, backflow can allow pollutants or contaminants to enter the potable water distribution system.  The change in pressures or reverse pressure gradient that allows backflow to occur may be due to either a loss of pressure in the supply main (back siphonage) or by the flow from a customer's pressurized system through an unprotected cross-connection (back pressure).  Back siphonage can be created by any change of system wherein the pressure at the supply point becomes lower than the pressure at the point of use.  When this happens in an unprotected situation, the water at the point of use will be siphoned back into the system and potentially pollute or contaminate the customer's system. It is also possible for the "dirty" water to continue to backflow into the public distribution system.  Back pressure conditions often occur as a result of the use of high pressure booster pumps or recirculating pumps.  Booster pumps are used primarily in commercial applications to recirculate hot water and in multi-story buildings.  The use of this type of pump can easily increase the pressure above that of the supply main.  Thus, if there is a pathway, whereby this pressurized water can enter the potable distribution system , there will be a hazard of back pressure.
 
Examples Of Backflow Incidents
 
Backflow from Garden Hoses
The most common cause of backflow is a cross-connection from a garden hose.  It is estimated that there are over 10,000 cross-connections in Texas from garden hoses every day. (Source: TCEQ)

Backflow from Residences
Lawn irrigation systems can also cause backflow conditions to occur.  In 1991, two homeowners in Michigan found parasitic worms in their water along with rust and other debris.  This was caused when the atmospheric vacuum breaker on one of the homeowner's residential irrigation system had malfunctioned because the device's air inlet valve had stuck to the device's air inlet port. At the same time that the vacuum breaker failed, there was a water main break causing a vacuum in the public water supply system.  The vacuum in the public water system pulled some water - and some worms and debris from the irrigation system into the public water system. (Source: AWWA)


Backflow from Clinics or Hospitals
In 1993, a clinic in North Carolina complained of a strange, bitter taste and strong chemical odor to its water.  They discovered that chemicals from a mixer used in x-ray development at the clinic had backflowed into the clinic's water system.  The mixer combined chemicals with potable water supplied by a garden hose connected to a hose bibb.  Someone at the clinic had submerged the end of the garden hose in the mixer, thus creating an indirect cross-connection.  As a result the chemicals in the mixer were backsiphoned through t
he garden hose into the clinic's potable water supply. (Source: AWWA) 
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Backflow from Car Washes
Many residents in Seattle, Washington began complaining that their water was "gray-green and slippery", "muddy", or "soapy" in February of 1979.  When the water was analyzed, the tests indicated that the water had been contaminated with a detergent solution.  The source of the detergent solution was traced to the recycled wash/rinse water at a carwash that had backflowed in to the public water system.  The backflow event was apparently caused because a high-pressure pump that normally pumped recycled wash/rinse water to the initial scrubber cycle of the car wash broke down.  After the high pressure pump broke down, the workers kept the car wash running by connecting a two inch hose between the piping in the rinse cycle of the car wash (that used potable water) to the piping of the scrubber cycle.  Once the broken high pressure pump was repaired, the temporary hose was not removed.  Although no one at the car wash realized it, the high pressure pump had forced a large quantity of recycled wash/rinse water into the public water system.  The car wash was ordered to install a reduced pressure backflow prevention assembly to the public water service connection at the car wash. (Source: USEPA)
 
Backflow from Veterinary Office
The City of Calgary, Canada received complaints about poor tasting water in June of 1983.  After collecting samples and analyzing them, the City found detectable traces of E Coli.  An investigation of possible sources revealed that the Veterinary office had several cross-connections.  The Veterinary office was ordered to install backflow prevention assemblies.  (Source: AWWA)
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How Can Backflow Be Prevented?
 
There are nine (9) distinct types of piping or mechanical assemblies, which are considered to be backflow prevention assemblies: but it must be stressed that these are not all equally acceptable as protection against all hazard types.
 
The degree of hazard must be accessed along with the type of cross-connection present to determine which type of backflow prevention assembly is most suited to the situation.  The official determining the type of device required is the local Plumbing Inspector or the District's Certified Inspector.  The State of Texas develops criteria for officials to follow for determining proper device. 
 
Devices Used To Prevent Backflow
air gaps
barometric loops
atmospheric vacuum breakers
hose bibb vacuum breakers
pressure vacuum breaker assembly
dual check valves
double check with atmospheric vent
double check valve assembly
reduced pressure zone assembly

 

Example: hose bibb vacuum breaker assembly for residential use.

 

Example: reduced pressure zone assembly for commercial use.

 

Example: atmospheric vacuum breaker for commercial and residential use.

 

 
Four critical parts of this rule are:
1. Air gaps or mechanical devices are required whenever an actual or potential health hazard exist.
2. Annual inspections and testing by certified testers are required. (Documentation of proof of inspection must be provided to the Water District annually.) 
3. The Water District is responsible for ensuring these requirements are met to protect the public health of our customers.
4. The water customer has a responsibility to protect the safety of the water system - both on their premises and in the public system.
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Commonly Used Definitions In The Water Industry
AWWA - American Water Works Association.
Backflow -  The undesirable reversal of flow in a potable drinking water distribution system as a result of cross-connection.
Back Pressure Backflow - results when the water flow is reversed because the undesirable water is at a greater pressure above atmospheric pressure than the potable water supply.  When the pressure of undesirable water exceeds the pressure of the potable water supply, back pressure backflow will occur through unprotected cross-connections.
Back Siphonage - results when the water flow is reversed because potable water supply is under a vacuum or at a reduced pressure.
Consumer - any person, firm, or corporation using or receiving water from the public water supply system.
Contamination - The presence of foreign substance (organic, inorganic, radiological or biological) in water which tends to degrade its quality so as to constitute a health hazard or impair the usefulness of water.
Cross-Connection - A physical connection between a pubic water system and either another supply of unknown or questionable water quality, any source which might contain contaminating or polluting substances, or any source of water treated to a lesser degree in the treatment process than provided by the Water District.
Health Hazard - Any conditions, devices or practices in the water supply system and/or its operation which create or may create, a danger to the public health and well being of the water consumer.  An example of a health hazard is a cross-connection or potential cross-connection involving any substance that could, if introduced into the water supply, cause death, illness, spread disease or have a high probability of causing such effects.
High Health Hazard - A cross-connection or potential cross-connection, or other situation involving any substance that could cause death, illness, spread of disease or has a high probability of causing such effects if introduced into the potable drinking water supply.
Pollution - The presence of any foreign substance in water that tends to degrade its quality so as to constitute a health hazard or impair the usefulness of water.
Potable - Water that is safe for human consumption as defined by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
TCEQ - Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
USEPA - United States Environmental Protection Agency
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Additional Sources of Information
Foundation for Cross-Connection Control and Hydraulic Research University of Southern California - www.usc.edu/dept/fccchr
 
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality - www.tceq.state.tx.us
 
American Water Works Association - www.awwa.org
 
American Backflow Prevention Associaton - www.abpa.org
 
United States Environmental Protection Agency - www.epa.gov
 
 
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