The purpose of the Cross-Connection Control and Backflow Prevention Program is to safeguard public drinking water and protect the health and safety of our customers from contamination by isolating any potential cross-connections which could backflow into the public water supply.
It is the responsibility of both SJWTX and its customers to protect the public water supply by adhering to the rules and regulations set forth by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
SJWTX has chosen to partner with Vepo, LLC to allow for the online submission of Backflow Prevention Assembly Test and Maintenance Reports and Customer Service Inspection Certificates. All information will be entered directly by the tester or inspector into the online password-protected system provided by Vepo, LLC. Testers and inspectors will no longer be able to submit paper reports directly to the SJWTX.
Customer Service Inspections
Customer Service Inspections (CSI) are performed to make sure there are no direct connections between the public water supply and a potential source of contamination or private water system that is not protected by either an air gap or an appropriate backflow prevention assembly.
A Customer Service Inspection is required before a new home is added to our water system. Since water meters are installed during construction and a proper CSI cannot be conducted, SJWTX requires a CSI be completed within 12 months of water meter installation or before a new customer takes ownership of the new home.
Finding or Becoming a Registered Inspector
All Customer Service Inspectors (CSIs) are required to register with Vepo, LLC. Upon registration and verification of license and insurance, the inspector will be added to the approved list of Customer Service Inspectors.
Find a Customer Service Inspector registered to work in your water service company.
Download a Quick Start Guide with information on how to become a registered CSI.
To protect the water system, backflow prevention assemblies are required for all connections that may present a potential source of contamination of the public water system. Backflow prevention assemblies must be tested upon installation and annually thereafter.
Finding or Becoming a Registered Tester
All Backflow Prevention Assembly Testers (BAPTs) are required to register with Vepo, LLC. Upon registration and verification of license, insurance, and test for accuracy reports, the tester will be added to the approved list of Backflow Prevention Assembly Testers.
Note: Backflow prevention assemblies on fire protection sprinkler systems are required by the State Fire Marshall to be tested and/or repaired by a BPAT who is a full-time employee of a fire protection sprinkler company that is licensed with the State Fire Marshall's Office.
Find a BPAT registered to work in your water service company.
Download a Quick Start Guide with information on how to become a registered BPAT.
If a customer fails to comply with TCEQ rules and regulations and adhere to SJWTX Cross-Connection Control and Backflow Prevention Program, SJWTX shall, at its option, terminate service in order to protect the public water supply. Any expenses associated with this enforcement shall be billed to the customer.
SJWTX’s Cross-Connection Control and Backflow Prevention Manual covers definitions, responsibilities, procedures, and enforcement as it relates to Customer Service Inspections and Backflow Prevention. All Backflow Prevention Assemblies shall be installed in accordance with SJWTX Standard Details.
In order to ensure that the backflow prevention assembly is in accordance with TCEQ regulations, you should refer to the Assessment of Hazards and Selection of Assemblies in the Manual or contact SJWTX.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does SJWTX need a Cross-Connection Control and Backflow Prevention Program?
The program safeguards the public drinking water and protects the health of its customers by ensuring that any contaminants that could backflow into the public water supply system are isolated within the customer's internal distribution system.
What is a Cross-Connection?
Cross-connections are the physical links that allow backflow to occur. Through physical connections, contamination of the water supply is possible as a result of backpressure or backsiphonage. Cross-connections are so common that they may go unnoticed and unrecognized. Recognition of common cross-connections is important to eliminate the potential for contamination to the public water supply.
What is a Customer Service Inspection (CSI)?
Inspectors will check to make sure there are no direct connections between the public drinking water supply and a potential source of contamination or private water system that is not protected by either an air gap or an appropriate backflow prevention assembly in accordance with TCEQ regulations. They will also ensure that no pipe or pipe fitting which contains more than 8% lead or solder which contains more than 0.2% lead exists.
When should a Customer Service Inspection (CSI) be performed?
CSIs are performed on new construction, existing services where contaminant hazards are suspected, and existing services where major renovations or expansion of the distribution facilities have occurred.
What is Backflow?
Backflow is any undesirable or unwanted reversal flow of used or non-potable water or substance from any domestic, industrial or institutional piping system into the potable water distribution system.
What is Backsiphonage?
Backsiphonage is the reverse pressure gradient due to a loss of pressure in the supply lines, caused by main line breaks, use of fire hydrants and other variables. The loss of pressure in the supply lines can cause water and other contaminants in the customer’s lines to be “sucked” back into the public water supply, similar to drinking out of a straw.
What is Backpressure?
Backpressure is the flow from a customer’s higher pressure system through an unprotected cross-connection. Many forces can create backpressure including centrifugal and positive displacement pumps, water at a higher elevation, water in pressurized vessels, boilers or steam systems, and heating or freezing water in closed fluid-filled pipes or containers.
How do you prevent backflow?
The two main ways to prevent backflow are: install a backflow prevention assembly or create an air gap.
What is an air gap?
An air gap is a physical separation of the public water supply from the source of the contamination. The air gap is provided by an unobstructed vertical separation of two times the diameter of the water supply outlet’s effective opening (but never less than one inch) between the discharge end of the water supply pipe and the flood level rim of the receptacle. Screened protection over the water supply outlet is recommended to protect the water supply pipe from insects and vermin. Caution must also be exercised if the tank receptacle contains substances which may emit toxic fumes or vapors which could be backsiphoned into the fresh water supply line.
What is a backflow prevention assembly?
The basic mechanism for preventing backflow is a mechanical backflow preventer, which provides a physical barrier to backflow.
How do you protect a backflow prevention assembly?
Some backflow prevention assemblies are below ground while others are above ground; in either instance, it is important to properly insulate your device to protect them from freezing. You may refer to Freezing Temperatures for more information on how to protect outdoor fixtures.
You can also purchase insulated bags and/or insulated/decorative rocks to protect and conceal above ground devices.
Why do backflow prevention assemblies need to be tested?
Mechanical backflow prevention assemblies have internal seals, springs, and moving parts that are subject to fouling, wear or fatigue. Also, mechanical backflow preventers and air gaps can be bypassed. Therefore, all backflow prevention assemblies have to be tested periodically to ensure that they are functioning correctly.
How often does the backflow prevention assembly need to be tested?
In order to ensure the proper operation of a backflow prevention assembly, it must be tested and certified upon installation and at least once a year thereafter by a licensed backflow tester.