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January 21st, 2023

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Cross-Connections & Backflow Prevention

barrel cross connectionContamination of water can easily occur in your home, workplace or municipality unless basic precautions are applied to prevent cross connections and backflow events.

What is backflow?

Backflow is when suction or pressure reverses the normal direction of flow of water (or other liquid or gaseous substance) in a piping system. This typically occurs following a loss of pressure somewhere in the water supply line. A fluid under higher pressure flows to a fluid under lower pressure. The reversed pressure differential causes water to flow backwards.

What is a Cross-Connection?

A cross-connection is any actual or potential point in a drinking water system where an unwanted, non-potable substance (liquid, solid or gaseous) can be sucked backward into the water supply. Cross connections are common in residential and non-residential settings. For example, under certain conditions water from a garden hose submerged in a swimming pool or bucket of detergent can flow backwards (backflow) into the drinking water system through the cross connection.

What is a Backflow Preventer?

Backflow Preventers are testable devices that prevent water from flowing backwards in the wrong direction.

Local Cross Connection Control Programs

Your municipal Cross Connection Control Program aims to protect your drinking water system from contamination that can occur due to backflow from private properties. Local municipalities have new backflow prevention requirements for homeowners and businesses. Cross Connections are controlled by installing and testing backflow preventers.

The Scale of the Backflow Problem

Backflow is a common occurrence. Routine maintenance, flushing and repair of municipal water lines can cause backflow. Thirteen percent (2012) of the tap water supplied by Metro Vancouver is lost through leaks in the municipal water supply lines. Reverse flow can also occur in high-rise buildings where the weight of the piped water creates back-pressure.

How to Prevent Backflow and Water Contamination

Backflow events can be prevented by eliminating cross connections and by installing backflow prevention devices. These devices can be installed where water enters a facility or household.
Once installed, backflow prevention devices must be maintained and should be tested at regular intervals.


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