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Cross Connection Control Frequently Asked Questions

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What is a “Cross Connection”?

A cross connection is a physical connection between drinking water plumbing and a piece of equipment or a plumbing system that during a backflow event could contaminate the drinking water. A potential connection from the drinking water plumbing to a potential source of contamination is also considered to be hazardous to the health of the drinking water system.

What is a backflow event?

A backflow event occurs when the water in a plumbing system flow backwards due to backpressure or backsiphonage. Backpressure is usually caused from pumping equipment that overcomes the water system pressure. Backsiphonage happens when a water main breaks or a fire truck connects to a hydrant during a fire.

What is a “backflow assembly”?

A backflow assembly is a mechanical device that allows water to flow only in one direction. The assembly prevents the reversal flow of water or other substances from entering the drinking water system from cross connections. A backflow assembly is sometimes referred to as a backflow preventer or backflow valve.

Is this a new requirement?

Cross connection control regulations began in Washington State in 1971. In 2002, the Washington State Department of Health directed the City of Wenatchee to implement cross connection control procedures and update the city code.

Does backflow really happen?

Backflow events do happen. Documented cases of backflow have happened in the Wenatchee Valley, with the most recent incident occurring in May of 2018. An incorrectly installed backflow assembly resulted in irrigation water being pumped into the drinking water system. For more information on other types of incidents that have happened across the United States, check out this website:

Why do I have to install a backflow assembly? My landscape sprinkler system has been installed before they were required.

Backflow prevention assemblies are installed to protect the drinking water. Even in the event of a pressure loss, retrofitting existing landscape systems with an approved backflow assembly ensures that the water supply will remain at its highest quality. Allowing a known cross connection hazard to exist would be putting you and others at risk.

How much does it cost to install a backflow assembly?

Actual cost of the assembly themselves vary by size and type. On average, for a modest lawn sprinkling system, a backflow assembly’s cost starts at approximately $125.00 to over $8000.00 for a large commercial fire sprinkler system. Installation would be an added cost. Homeowners can install the backflow assembly to save on the installation cost. Visit the City’s website for more information on obtaining a plumbing permit and installing a backflow assembly.

Is there any annual maintenance associated with backflow assemblies?

Yes. Backflow assemblies must pass a test upon installation and annually thereafter to ensure their proper operation. Only a Washington State certified backflow assembly tester can perform the required test. Test prices vary from approximately $40.00 to $75.00.

To find a certified tester, Washington Certification Services maintains a list of currently certified testers at the following website:
Search “backflow assembly tester near me” on the internet.

If the backflow valve is in need of repairs, can I make the repairs?

Yes. The property owner may make the repairs if they are needed. A certified backflow tester must test the assembly after the repairs are made.

For further questions, please call (509) 888-3227.

Thank you for helping to keep our drinking water safe!