Backflow & Cross Connection

What is Backflow & Cross Connection?

Water pressure keeps water flowing into your home and out of your tap. Abrupt loss of pressure in the water system can occur when mains break or fire hydrants are in use.  When events like these occur, potentially contaminated water from outside the plumbing system can be pulled back into the drinking water system through cross connections.  Potential contaminants include bacteria, feces, viruses, and chemicals.  Less frequently water pressure inside your home can increase, for instance due to thermal expansion in your hot water tank, which can then push potentially contaminated water from the home back into the public system.

A cross connection is any point where the drinking water plumbing system is connected to a non-potable plumbing system or fixture. Home fire sprinkler systems, wells, ornamental fountains, and irrigation or sprinkler systems are common cross connections.  Temporary cross connections include items such as hose-end chemical applicators or garden hoses left in pools, buckets, or other containers.


Safeguarding the Water Supply

Why does it matter?

Backflow is a public health concern.  While uncommon, backflow incidents around the nation have resulted in illness and, very rarely, deaths.  We make every effort to maintain system pressure to avoid back flow incidents, however unplanned events like main breaks and firefighting activities may cause backflow to occur.

How is drinking water protected from this risk?

Known cross connection hazards, by law, must be separated from the water supply with a device called a backflow prevention assembly.  The most common device is a double check backflow assembly installed as part of an in-ground irrigation system, although vacuum breakers installed on hose bibs are commonly found on new construction as well.

Cross connections posing a higher hazard must have more advanced protection.  Properties with a well and a connection to the public water supply, for instance, will likely require a reduced pressure backflow assembly.

Oregon Administrative Rule 333-061-0070 delegated responsibility for enforcement of cross connection control to local water providers and is administered per Sunrise Water Authority Ordinance 2014-01.



What can I do to protect my drinking water?

Confirm You Have an Approved Backflow Prevention Assembly

For properties with in-ground irrigation systems, confirm that you have an approved backflow prevention assembly installed.  It is typically found in a small box with a green lid (often marked sprinkler system) located near the water meter box. The device will normally be a double check valve assembly similar to the one shown here.

Get the Device Tested by a Certified Backflow Tester

Backflow assemblies are mechanical devices that can wear out or fail.  Testing assures that the device is in working order. A list of certified testers is maintained by the Oregon Health Authority.

Be sure to ask about pricing before you agree to testing. Average costs for testing is between $35-$45. Any repairs will involve additional costs.

NOTE:  If you have a testable backflow device you are required by law to have it tested every year. Failure to test your device may result in suspension of water service.

Make Sure the Backflow Test Results Are Reported to Sunrise

Normally, the backflow tester will submit your test results to us, but it is your responsibility to ensure that they are properly sent to:

Sunrise Water Authority
Cross Connection Control Program
10602 SE 129th Ave.
Happy Valley, OR 97086