Cross Connection & Backflow Prevention

Protecting your drinking water supply is everyone’s responsibility. State regulations require residential, commercial and industrial customers served by a public water system to protect the public water system from potential contamination. Under certain conditions water from private plumbing can flow into the public water distribution system, this is referred to as backflow. In order to prevent potential backflow, some customers are required to install and maintain backflow prevention devices on the main water service lines.

Contact Information

Sacramento

Starting January 1, 2019, Sacramento County Environmental Management Department will no longer be coordinating annual backflow assembly testing for California American Water service areas in Sacramento County. This transformation of the Cross Connections Control Program will require the following: 

1. Individuals that test within Cal Am service areas need to register with Cal Am’s Cross Connection Control Department by providing the following:

  • A copy of the tester’s certification (CA-NV AWWA or NCBPA)
  • A copy of Calibration Certificate for each backflow tester unit
  • Contact information

2. Backflow assemblies (BFA) that have passed inspection/testing are required to be tagged with California American Water Company certification tag. All registered testers may request free certification tags from California American Water’s Cross Connection Control Department (see contacts below) and receive them at California American Water’s Sacramento Office.

3.  Effective 1/1/2019, all test reports should be submitted directly to California American Water’s Sacramento cross connection control group:

  • A test report form will be provided to each customer along with the BFA Testing reminder letter.
  • A test report for a BFA that has passed inspection/testing should be provided to Cal Am cross connection specialist within 5 business days of the test
  • Testers should notify California American Water cross connection specialist of the failed test within 24 hours of the test

4. California American Water cross connection specialist must be notified 3 business days in advance of service shut off for a backflow assembly replacement. Only California American Water representative allowed to perform service shut-off/shut-on for this purpose.

5. Starting 1/1/2019, Backflow Assembly (BFA) testing reminder letter will be sent to the customers by California American Water’s Cross Connection Department. A test report form will be provided to each customer along with the BFA Testing reminder letter.

6. An anniversary testing date for your assembly(s) might be slightly adjusted due to the records synchronization process.

Please remember, backflow assemblies must be tested on an annual basis to ensure that they are working properly. In addition to annual field testing, backflow prevention assemblies may need to be field tested more than annually:

  • immediately following initial installation
  • whenever an assembly is relocated, taken apart for repair, or taken out of service and is returned to service
  • whenever supply piping is altered
  • whenever an installed assembly is newly discovered and previous testing records are not available
  • whenever the administrative authority requires more frequent testing to ensure continued protection

California American Water - Cross Connection Department

4701 Beloit Drive, Sacramento, CA 95838

Phone: 1-916-568-4262

Email: Hector.Torres@amwater.com

We appreciate your support to California American Water in ensuring a reliable drinking water supply. 


Larkfield

Please contact Margaret DiGenova in our Larkfield Office at 707-542-8329 or margaret.digenova@amwater.com.

San Diego

Please contact Christopher Nessman at christopher.nessman@amwater.com or 619-446-5702.

Ventura

Please contact Shauna Raciot at shauna.raciot@amwater.com or 619-446-4768.

Los Angeles

Please contact Geoff Williamson at geoff.williamson@amwater.com or 626-614-2531.

Monterey

Please contact Jack Wang at jack.wang@amwater.com or 831-646-3269.

What is Cross Connection?

Cross Connection is any actual or physical connection between a potable (drinkable) water supply and any source of non-potable liquid, solid or gas that could contaminate drinking water under certain circumstances.

What is Backflow?

Backflow is the reverse flow of water or other substances into the treated drinking water distribution system. There are two types of backflow: backpressure and backsiphonage.
• Backpressure happens when the pressure of the contaminant source exceeds the positive pressure in the water distribution main. An example would be when a drinking water supply main has a connection to a hot water boiler system that is not protected by an approved and functioning backflow preventer. If pressure in the boiler system increases to where it exceeds the pressure in the water distribution system, backflow from the boiler to the drinking water supply system may occur. 
• Backsiphonage is caused by a negative pressure (vacuum or partial vacuum) in the water distribution system. This situation is similar in effect to the sipping of water through a straw. In the drinking water distribution system, negative pressure (backsiphonage) occurs during a water main break or when a hydrant is used for fire fighting.

Why should you be concerned?

Backflow may affect the quality of the drinking water at your home, business or facility and has the potential to create health hazards if contaminated water enters your water supply plumbing system and is used for drinking, cooking or bathing. Backflow events occur more often than you might think although most do not create health hazards. Unprotected cross-connections with water supply plumbing or public drinking water piping systems are prohibited. We are all responsible for protecting our water supply from backflow that may contaminate our drinking water. It includes complying with the plumbing code and avoiding unprotected cross connections.

Who is responsible?

The responsibility for preventing backflow is divided. In general, state and local plumbing inspectors have authority over plumbing systems within buildings while state regulatory agencies and public water suppliers regulate protection of the distribution system at each service connection. Water customers have the ultimate responsibility for properly maintaining their plumbing systems. It is the water customer’s responsibility to ensure that unprotected cross-connections are not created and that any required backflow prevention devices are tested in accordance with state requirements and maintained in operable condition.

Preventing backflow situations in your home and business
• Be aware of cross connections, eliminate or isolate them
• Maintain air gaps on sinks and when using hoses.
• Do not submerge hoses or place them where they could become submerged.
• Use hose bib vacuum breakers on fixtures (hose connections in the basement, laundry room, and on outside faucets/spigots).
• Install approved backflow prevention devices on lawn irrigation systems and on fire sprinkler system services. Types of preventative required devices are determined based on the potential type of pollutants or contaminants high, low or moderate. In low hazard situations, the installation of a residential dual-check device might be allowed.

As listed above, failure to comply can result in water service disconnection after repeated request from our Cross Connection Department.