Learn about cross connection, and what your requirements are as a business to prevent backflow events.

Image of a concrete wall covered in copper water pipes.

What is cross connection?

A cross connection is any temporary or permanent link between a potable (drinking) water system and any source containing non-potable water or other substances.

If the connection is not made correctly water can backflow from the non-potable source into the drinking water system. This backflow can carry contaminants such as harmful chemicals or bacteria that can cause a public health hazard.

Strathcona County’s water supply is safe and clean. We must all to do our part to ensure it stays that way.

Residential cross connections

The most common source of cross connections in the home is a hose. Hoses are used in many places around the home such as laundry or garden hoses, shower heads and flexible sink faucets. The danger occurs when a hose is connected, the end is submerged and there is a drop in water pressure. This drop in pressure can cause the normal flow of liquid in the system to reverse and suck up the liquid at the end of the hose, allowing it to enter and potentially contaminate the water supply.

Contaminants may also enter our drinking water through in-ground irrigation systems, water conditioners and heating boilers.

Homeowners must ensure no cross-connections exist on their property that could contaminate their water supply.

Industrial and commercial cross connections

In the industrial and commercial sectors there are many pieces of equipment or process that require a cross connection to the water system. These can include, but are not limited to:

  • Wash basins and janitor service sinks
  • Boilers and solar heating systems
  • Water conditioners
  • Water recirculating and reclaimed water systems
  • Processing tanks
  • Industrial fluid systems and compressors
  • Fire protection systems

As backflow on industrial and commercial processes poses a greater risk to the public water supply they are subject to further monitoring and regulation.

Preventing backflow

To prevent backflow any time there is a cross connection it must be properly protected with a backflow prevention device (also known as a cross connection control device).

A backflow prevention device is a “one-way” device that only allows water to flow in the desired direction. Once the water flows out, it can't flow back in.

This is a requirement under the Canadian Standards Association (CSA B64.10), the National Plumbing Code of Canada, and Strathcona County Bylaw 16-2016.

For most residential appliances and fixtures backflow prevention already exists in the form of air gaps. For example, the faucet of a sink is set high enough that no matter how full the sink is the faucet will remain above the water.

Within the commercial and industrial sectors there are many applications and processes that require additional protection. As these processes pose a greater risk to the public water supply, they are subject to further requirements.

The main types of backflow prevention devices are

  • reduced-pressure principle assemblies
  • pressure vacuum breaker assemblies
  • double-check valve assemblies
  • registered Air Gaps

Cross connection control program

The Cross Connection Control Program reduces the risk of contamination to Strathcona’s water supply. Under the Cross Connection Control Program

  • every cross connection must be controlled by an approved backflow prevention device
  • the property owner is responsible for the maintenance and inspection of the backflow prevention device
  • the property owner must keep a record of this maintenance and submit the results of all testing to the County

Backflow prevention devices must be tested:

  • Upon installation
  • When cleaned, repaired or overhauled
  • When relocated/moved
  • Annually

Failure to install or correctly maintain an appropriate backflow prevention device can lead to fines.

Find a certified backflow tester.

Am I required to participate in the program?

You will be notified by letter if you are required to participate in the Cross Connection Control Program. To submit the results of your test to the County you can either mail a copy to:

Strathcona County Utilities
ATTN: Randy Fisher
2001 Sherwood Drive
Sherwood Park, Alberta T8A 3W7

Or email your results to SCUtilities@strathcona.ca, with ATTN: Randy Fisher in the subject line.

Bylaw information

You can find more details about the requirements for cross connection control in the following Strathcona County bylaws: Strathcona County Bylaw 16-2016.

Water and wastewater services and 24-hour emergency
Phone: 780-467-7785
Fax: 780-464-0557
Email: scutilities@strathcona.ca

Last updated: Thursday, May 18, 2023
Page ID: 51306