Cross Connection

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) recognizes water utilities have the responsibility to supply potable water to their customers. In the exercise of 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 hazards originating on the premises of their customers, such as the interface between water systems and fire prevention/control systems; and protect public water systems from temporary connections that may impair or alter the water.

The return of any water to the public water system after the water has been used for any purpose on the customer’s premises or within the customer’s plumbing system is unacceptable and opposed by AWWA.

Water utilities or other responsible authorities should assure that effective backflow prevention measures are implemented commensurate with the degree of potential hazard and likelihood of occurrence, to ensure protection of the water in public water distribution systems. Customers, together with authorities, are responsible for preventing contamination of the public water supply due to cross connections with their plumbing systems and for maintaining associated backflow prevention 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 could include the testing, installation, and assurance of proper operation and installation of backflow‐prevention assemblies, devices, and methods commensurate with the degree of hazard and likelihood of occurrence at the service connection, point of use, or both. If these actions are not taken, water utilities should be empowered to suspend service.

To reduce the risk customer plumbing systems pose to the public water distribution system, water utilities’ backflow prevention programs should include public education and coordination with the cross connection efforts of local authorities ‐‐ particularly public health and plumbing 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 customer plumbing systems for health and safety and to protect their customers from backflow hazards.


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.