Cross-Connection

EPWater's Cross-Connection Control Program

By taking steps to control cross connections and prevent the possibility of backflow, you will help to protect the public water supply.

A backflow is the unwanted flow from a domestic, industrial or commercial piping system into the potable water distribution system.

To prevent backflow at the point of cross-connection, customers must install a backflow prevention assembly. El Paso Water allows the installation of one of five types of devices, depending on the assessed hazard and type of installation:

  • Air gap
  • Reduced pressure principle assembly
  • Reduced pressure principle detector assembly
  • Double check assembly
  • Pressure vacuum breaker

The installation of a BPA device must be performed by a licensed plumber.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has established regulations to contain hazards of non-return devices at the service connection. TCEQ’s website contains a cross-connection resource page with valuable information.

Backflow prevention assembly inspection, testing

El Paso Water inspects all BPAs when they are installed. Once installed, all BPAs must be tested annually by a TCEQ licensed tester. An original copy of that report must be provided to El Paso Water.

All containment backflow prevention assemblies within the jurisdiction of EPWater must be tested for proper operation by private sector certified backflow prevention technicians at the time of installation, repair, or relocation and at least on an annual schedule.

In addition, containment backflow prevention assemblies installed on new services must be tested by certified backflow prevention technicians for proper operation immediately upon installation and before water service is turned on at the premises.

Cross-connection control regulations and manual

EPWater’s cross-connection control requirements may be found in our Rules and Regulations, Section V – Protection of Water Supply.

 Cross-Connection Manual

Approval of Backflow Prevention Assembly

All backflow prevention assemblies that are installed for containment cross-connection control must be approved by the University of Southern California Foundation for Cross-Connection Control and Hydraulic Research. The manual that came with a backflow prevention assembly should indicate that it has been tested and approved by this foundation.

Contact information

For any questions concerning approval of a specific backflow prevention assembly or on testing requirements, please contact 915-594-5440.

Cross-Connection FAQ

What is a cross-connection?

A cross connection is a point in the public water supply or in the customer’s water system that is connected directly, or has the potential of being connected, to a source of non-potable substance through which contaminants or pollutants may enter the public water supply or the customer’s water system.

What is a non-return device?

Non-return devices include installed devices in which the water service connection and the premises domestic water heater may create a closed domestic water system.Examples include backflow prevention assemblies, check valves, dual check valves, pressure reducing or regulating valves, and in some instances water softeners.

What causes water to flow backward?

Back-siphonage and back-pressure is the cause.

What is back-siphonage?

It is the reverse flow of water caused by the supply pressure being less than the pressure in a private plumbing system.

What causes back-pressure?

Heating systems, elevated tanks and pressure-producing systems can create pressure in the customer’s plumbing that exceeds the supply pressure.

What is a backflow prevention assembly (BPA)?

It is a testable, mechanical device that uses valves to prevent contaminated water from flowing backwards The assembly should be installed on the customer's plumbing as close to the meter as possible.

Is it necessary for every customer to install a BPA?

No. Regulations exempt single-family homes used solely for residential purposes from assembly requirements. All other facilities need to be inspected to determine the type of water use and whether a BPA is required.

My building as internal BPAs. Do I still need them at the service connection?

No. Regulations exempt single-family homes used solely for residential purposes from assembly requirements. All other facilities need to be inspected to determine the type of water use and whether a BPA is required.

Who installs a backflow prevention assembly?

The customer works directly with the Utility to get the process started. Backflow assemblies are installed by licensed plumbers according to the El Paso Water installation requirements. The final installation must be inspected by El Paso Water.

Why is annual testing required? Who performs the annual test?

Like any mechanical device, the backflow prevention assembly is subject tofailure. Annual testing ensures that the devices are operating as designed. The State of Texas certifies professional BPA testers.

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