Cross Connection and Backflow Prevention

The drinking water supply for the Cities of Texarkana is clean, safe and wholesome and is approved by both the Arkansas Department of Health and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. It is essential we maintain a safe and wholesome water supply by adhering to the highest quality standards. Care must be taken to prevent it from being made unfit or unsafe through accidental misuse in the consumer's piping system. This includes an effective program of backflow and cross connection prevention as mandated by state and federal agencies. The Backflow and Cross Connection Control Program is designed to protect the potable water system. The Backflow and Cross Connection Control requirements are outlined in local codes (Texarkana, Arkansas; Texarkana, Texas).

Any plumbing system may include inadvertent cross connections which may pose a serious health risk. A cross connection is a connection between the piping system carrying the potable water supply and any secondary piping system which may carry water from another source (eg. a well) or where water piping is connected directly to equipment (eg. end-of-hose fertilizer or pesticide applicator) or where hoses or piping are used to fill containers or maintain water levels (eg. watering dishes (view cross connection), swimming pools). The most common cross is the ordinary garden hose. For this reason, the Texarkana Water Utilities recommends all consumers install hose bib vacuum breakers, available at most hardware, home improvement and discount stores, on all outside hose bibs.

Backflow occurs when the pressure in the distribution system drops, for example when a fire hydrant is being used during fire fighting activities or when a distribution line breaks, siphoning water from the consumer's system into the distribution system. If the consumer's water piping is in contact with contaminates, such as a water hose left below the water surface of a container, these contaminates are siphoned into the water distribution system. Backflow can also occur when the consumer uses pumps which cause the pressure to be higher in the consumer's system than in the distribution system.

Some cross connections are necessary and cannot be eliminated. One such example is a below-ground automatic sprinkler system. In this case, federal, state and local regulations require the installation of a mechanical backflow prevention device to protect the distribution system. For an irrigation system, the minimum backflow prevention assembly required is a reduced pressure principle assembly. All backflow assemblies must be installed by a licensed plumber and shall be tested annually by a licensed tester who is registered with the Texarkana Water Utilities.