Cross Connection

AWWA Policy Statement on Cross Connection

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) recognizes water utilities have the responsibility to supply potable water that is safe and aesthetically pleasing to their end users regardless of size and complexity of the system. With this responsibility, water utilities or other responsible authorities must implement, administer, and maintain ongoing backflow prevention and cross‐connection control programs to prevent backflow; protect public water systems from the actual or potential hazards originating on the premises of end user building owners or end users; and protect public water systems from temporary connections that may impair or alter the water.

The return of any water to the public system after the water has been  delivered to the end user at the point of connection is an unacceptable public health concern and is opposed by AWWA.

Water utilities or other responsible authorities must ensure that effective backflow prevention measures are implemented commensurate with the degree of potential hazard and hydraulic conditions, for the protection of the water in public distribution systems.  End users, together with authorities, must take reasonable measures to prevent contamination of the public water supply due to cross connections with their plumbing systems and to maintain all associated backflow prevention assemblies and devices.

If appropriate backflow prevention measures have not been taken, water utilities or other responsible authorities should take or initiate reasonable measures to ensure that public water distribution systems are protected from actual or potential backflow hazards. These measures include the installation, of backflow‐prevention assemblies, commensurate with the degree of hazard and at the service connection, point of use, or both, along with periodic testing and maintenance to ensure proper operation. If these actions are not taken, water utilities should be empowered to suspend service or remedy the situation at the expense of the facility owner. 

To reduce the risk that end users’ plumbing systems pose to the public water distribution system, the backflow prevention programs of water utilities should include public education and coordination with the cross connection efforts of local authorities ‐ particularly public health departments, local fire agencies, and, code officials. This is of increasing importance given the growing application of dual plumbing systems utilizing recycled water. In areas lacking a health or plumbing enforcement agency, water utilities should additionally promote the design and maintenance of end user plumbing systems for health and safety and to protect their end users from backflow hazards.

Practices specified in this policy statement are consistent with all other pertinent AWWA policy statements.

Adopted by the Board of Directors Jan. 26, 1970, revised June 24, 1979, reaffirmed June 10, 1984, and revised Jan. 28, 1990, and Jan. 21, 2001, reaffirmed Jan. 16, 2005., Revised Jan. 17, 2010, Revised June 8, 2014, Revised Jan. 12, 2023.