I received a Letter in the mail from my town/city/township stating I need to have a Cross Connection & Backflow Survey completed for my building! I’ve owned my building for years – why do I all of a sudden need to do this?
Since the Walkerton tragedy in 2000, many Municipalities in Ontario and Simcoe County have established a Backflow Prevention and Cross Connection Control Program and By-Laws. This comes as a result of the recommendations of Hon.Dennis O’Connor in his 2002 “Report of the Walkerton Inquiry, As Strategy for Safe Drinking Water.”
Municipalities are adopting their own By-Laws to implement Backflow & Cross Connection Preventions programs. It’s important to know that each Municipality has their own specific program, and generally have lists of Qualified Backflow Tester Company’s that you must use. Division 15 Plumbing has registered with each of the Municipalities in Simcoe County who have a formal backflow prevention and testing program in place.
Commercial, Institutional and Industrial buildings are the first to be required to adopt and upgrade their systems in order to comply with the new By-Laws. Most times, a letter is received in the mail from the Municipality stipulating a time frame to complete and submit a survey and subsequently rectify any deemed “hazards.” This can very quickly become confusing for a business person whose main business is something other than plumbing!
This is where we can help. We offer full service program for complying with Municipal Backflow and Cross Connection Programs in Simcoe County.
What is a cross-connection?
A cross-connection is any actual or potential connection between a potable (drinking) water system and any source of pollution or contamination.
What is backflow?
Backflow is a flowing back of water or reversal of the normal direction of flow. Backflow may occur due to either back siphonage or back pressure.
What is a backflow preventer?
Simply put, a backflow preventer is a device or assembly that prevents backflow. Some types of backflow preventer require testing to ensure that they will work as intended and there are some that do not require testing.
What is back siphonage?
Back siphonage is backflow caused by a negative pressure (i.e., a vacuum or partial vacuum) in a public water system. The effect is similar to drinking water through a straw. Back siphonage can occur when there is a stoppage of water supply due to nearby firefighting, a break in a water main, high velocities in pipe lines, line repair or break that is lower than a service point, lowered main pressure due to high water withdrawal rate such as firefighting or water main flushing or reduced supply pressure on the suction side of the booster pump.
What is backpressure?
Back pressure is pressure that is greater than the municipal water system supply pressure. It can happen when there is a connection to a non-potable supply operating at a higher pressure than the water distribution system. Increases in pressure can be created by booster pumps, temperature increases in boilers, interconnections with systems operating at higher pressures and elevated piping (e.g., 30 feet above finished grade).
What causes backflow?
An example is when there is a water main break and the area must be isolated and repaired. When the valves around the repair site are closed, the flow of water is stopped to all points of use such as homes and businesses and begins to flow backwards towards the repair. This is back siphonage and if there are cross connections, contaminants can be drawn into the water system.
What happens after backflow occurs?
When the repair is completed and the regular pressure is restored everything starts to flow in the proper direction. Any contaminants that had a chance to enter the water supply will start to flow towards any point of use (plumbing fixtures) in homes or businesses. The degree of hazard to health will be dependent on the type and amount of contaminant, the amount of time the situation goes unnoticed and whether or not a protective device is in place.
Why do backflow prevention devices have to be tested periodically?
Mechanical backflow preventers have internal seats, springs and moving parts that are subject to fouling, wear or fatigue. These mechanical devices and air gaps can also be by-passed. Therefore, some backflow preventers have to be tested periodically to ensure that they are functioning properly and others such as an air gap require a visual check to ensure that they are still in place. The testable backflow preventers must be tested by someone that has had proper training and is qualified to do so. Refer to Who is Qualified to test a Backflow Device?
Who is Qualified to install a Backflow Device?
In most Municipalities in Ontario, a licensed Plumber or Registered Apprentice are capable of installing Backflow devices. It’s always best to check your local by-laws for their specific regulations. All of the technicians on the Division 15 Plumbing team are Licensed Plumbers and Registered Apprentices
Who is Qualified to Test a backflow device?
“To be qualified, a backflow prevention device tester must complete and pass the Cross Connection Control (CCC) course. After successful course completion through an OWWA-accredited educational institution, a person’s qualification as an OWWA Certified Cross Connection Control Specialist is valid for a period not exceeding 5 years at which time they must recertify. Recertification courses are offered through the same educational institutions that offer the full course.
A certificate number followed by R12 (e.g. 07123R12) indicates that the tester was recertified in 2012 and is registered in the OWWA database until December 31, 2017.” From the Ontario Water Works Association website.
Division 15 Plumbing has a team of certified backflow prevention device testers to help with your needs
Who is qualified to conduct a backflow and cross connection survey?
Only licensed plumbers who are certified with the OWWA are entrusted with conducting cross connection surveys in Ontario.
What is an air gap?
An "Air Gap" is a physical separation between the free flowing discharge end of a potable water supply pipeline and an open or non-pressure receiving vessel. An approved air gap shall be at least double the diameter of the supply pipe and in no case should be less than 1 inch.
An air gap is a totally non-mechanical means of backflow prevention. It will ALWAYS work. An air gap is considered the maximum protection available against back pressure or back-siphonage.