Cross Connection Control Information & History

What does the term Cross-Connection mean? A Cross-Connection is defined as any actual or potential connection between a potable water system and any other source or system through which it is possible to introduce into the potable water system any used water, industrial fluids, gas or other substance other than the intended potable water with which the system is supplied.

This is a brief overview of the history, development and regulatory agencies that are responsible to keep our potable water safe:

Regulation by the US Congress for Public Health Service began as early as 1912 when surveys and studies for water pollution along with the standards for contaminant levels as it is related to drinking water were adopted to protect the public water supply.

In 1925 the American Water Works Association adopted a resolution stating that Cross-Connections cause illness and that no connection shall be established between potable and non-potable water supplies.

In the early 1940's the University of Southern California Foundation for Cross-Connection Control and Hydraulic Research began writing specifications for backflow preventers, and field testing procedures. It was not until 1970 however that training began for backflow prevention assembly testers and not until 1988 that cross-connection control program specialists were initiated.

In 1973 the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) published its first Cross-Connection Control Manual, which was distributed to water suppliers. This manual set the guidelines for potable water distribution, monitoring, water quality and accountability.

In 1974 the SAFE WATER DRINKING ACT was adopted to protect the public health by regulating the public drinking water supply. Under this law the water suppliers are responsible to provide quality water delivered to the service connection. The national health standards are set by the EPA but the sates have the right to create stricter laws for maintaining safe drinking water.

The State of California adopted Title 17 (7583) Public Health Department of Drinking Water Supply. This department defines the types of water supply systems, the official standards developed and approved by American Water Works Association (AWWA), the definitions of cross-connections, evaluations of the degree of potential health hazard at any user's site and the determination of the required backflow protection. The intent of the regulations within Title 17 is to provide safeguards for our domestic water supply and insure that the water is potable and does not endanger the lives or health of the general public. It is the water purveyor's responsibility to protect and enforce the requirements outlined in (7605) regarding annual testing & maintenance of backflow prevention assemblies and to maintain those records.

Title 22 California Code of Regulations, State Department of Health Services, Chapter 3 defines types and uses for Disinfected Secondary or Tertiary Recycled Water. The use of recycled water includes but is not limited to: landscape irrigation, agriculture irrigation, construction water, water for industrial purposes, etc. Each use of recycled water must have a permit and be in compliance with all program rules, conditions and regulations. Design plans must be submitted to the local recycled water retailer who has jurisdiction over the program. Once approved, installed and inspected it is the customer's responsibility to contract with an AWWA Certified Cross-Connection Control Specialists to perform a Cross-Connection Control Test prior to connecting the water retailers recycled water system. This test is to ensure the absolute separation of the recycled and potable water systems. Test procedures are found in Appendix J of the Uniformed Plumbing Code. The end user is responsible to retain the specific operation and maintenance of the site and must provide written documentation annually to the Water Retailer.

Effective July 1, 2024, the State Water Resources Control Board issued a Cross-Connection Control Policy Handbook to explain the laws regarding water distribution. The purpose of the new laws is for the protection of public health through the established standards intended to safeguard the public water systems, which distributes our drinking water. The handbook has specific guide lines for water purveyors, backflow service companies and plumbing companies for testing, repairs, installation and maintenance of backflow devices which helps to protect against substance backflowing into the water distribution system. For further information visit: