Cross Connections and Backflows

What is a cross connection?

A cross connection is any actual or potential connection between the drinking water lines and potential sources of pollution or contamination such as a piping arrangement or equipment that allows the drinking water to come in contact with non-potable liquids, solids, or gases hazardous to humans in the event of a backflow.

What is a backflow?

Backflow is the undesired reverse of the water flow in the drinking water distribution lines. This backward flow of the water can occur when the pressure created by equipment or system such as a boiler or air conditioning system is higher than the water pressure inside the water distribution line (back pressure), or when the pressure in the distribution line drops due to routine occurrences such as water main breaks or heavy water demand causing the water to flow backward inside the water distribution system (backsiphonage). Backflow is a problem that many water consumers are unaware of, a problem that each and every water customer has a responsibility to help prevent.

What Can I Do To Help Prevent A Cross-Connection?

Without the proper protection something as simple as a garden hose has the potential to contaminate or pollute the drinking water lines in your house. In fact over half of the country’s cross-connection incidents involve unprotected garden hoses. There are very simple steps that you as a drinking water user can take to prevent such hazards, they are:

  • NEVER submerge a hose in soapy water buckets, pet watering containers, pool, tubs, sinks, drains or chemicals.
  • NEVER attach a hose to a garden sprayer without the proper backflow preventer.
  • Buy and install a hose bibb vacuum breaker in any threaded water fixture. The installation can be as easy as attaching a garden hose to a spigot. This inexpensive device is available at most hardware stores and home-improvement centers.
  • Identify and be aware of potential cross-connections to your water line.
  • Buy appliances and equipment with a backflow preventer.
  • Buy and install backflow prevention devices or assemblies for all high and moderate hazard connections.

If you are the owner or manager of a property that is being used as a commercial, industrial or institutional facility you must have your property’s plumbing system surveyed for cross-connection by the City of Gloucester’s Cross Connection Program Coordinator. If your property has NOT been surveyed for cross-connection please contact this office (978) 325-5680 to schedule a cross-connection survey.

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