Cross-connection Control Supervisor's Checklist

by Les O'Brien, CET

          If your city is small (less than one thousand metered customers) it is conceivable that you, as the cross-connection control supervisor, also serve as the public works director, and you may share the same office with the police chief. But if you work in a large city (greater than 50,000 metered customers), you will need an administrative clerk, an inspector, and a couple of backflow technicians to help you with your duties.

Following is a checklist of a cross-connection supervisor's responsibilities:

Prepare a written ordinance or service contract. If you do not have a program in place, you must prepare an ordinance that will serve the public health and community needs. If you already have a written ordinance or service contract you should review this document to see if it is current and does not conflict with other ordinances, policies, or plumbing codes. You must determine if your ordinance or service contract contains all of the elements of your state's safe drinking water regulations. Remember, your ordinance can be stronger than your state's regulations - but never weaker. Your ordinance can also be stronger than your adopted minimum plumbing code.

Review plans for new construction. You must inform the developer, architect, engineer of any new construction and inform them about your system's requirements concerning backflow protection.

Access plumbing permits, building permits, and zoning changes. Single family houses are often converted to professional offices. These changes cannot occur without a change of zoning. Any new construction on existing structures normally requires a building or plumbing permit.

Test new backflow prevention assemblies. You should be notified about the installation of every new water meter in your system.

Test backflow prevention assemblies and devices annually. Whether your utility's employees or the local contractors perform the tests, you are responsible for insuring that the tests are performed accurately and on time.

Decide who is qualified to repair backflow prevention assemblies. You will decide what type of training and how much training will be required. You should stay in constant contact with your contractors. You must insist that they repair assemblies not just replace them.

Remaining visible in the community. It helps to be seen in your vehicle "making the rounds." Contractors need to know that you do not just sit behind a desk in an office.

Keep records of all backflow assemblies and devices in your system. If you work for the utility company, you may be responsible only for assemblies installed on service connections. If you work for a building or plumbing inspection department, you are responsible for all backflow preventers past the point of service.

Inspect each building constructed before you started your program. You should inspect each building for cross-connections: you will find many cross-connections. You will decide how to accomplish this monumental task, how many inspectors you will need, and where they can get training. You will need to establish which customers are the most hazardous to your system.

Decide which individuals should receive training other than the inspectors. You will decide how much training and where the training will be provided.

Decide how you will generate funds to operate your program. One possibility is to require a permit fee for the installation, testing, or repair of the backflow preventer.

Educate your customers. Make contact with your customers using face to face meetings, letters, bill stuffers, door knob hangers, and advertisements in the local newspaper. You must inform each customer who has a backflow preventer installed on their service about the hazards of thermal expansion.

Write an emergency procedures plan. This involves contacting all individuals who are part of the emergency team and brief them on their duties.

Maintain credibility. Clean up your own backyard first. Inspect your company's properties, making sure the appropriate backflow prevention assemblies are installed. Your utility/company must comply with your ordinance, policy or service contract before you can ask your customers to install backflow preventers. Do not forget to inspect your water plant.

Enlist help to run your program. Here are a few people who can help you:

          Get to know these people. You will be visiting with each of these groups, explaining your program and enlisting their help.


          If you accomplish all of these tasks, there is still no guarantee that you will not have a cross-connection incident in your community. Your best bet is to accomplish as much as possible and to document everything that you do. You want to be prepared for the day that you may have to defend your program to a judge. If you have done your job effectively, you can be proud that you have done everything in your power to protect the health and welfare of your customers.

The above article appeared in the July 1995 issue of OPFLOW vol 21 no7.: published by the American Water Works Association. (AWWA)
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