Pursuant to the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, the DNR, under NR 810.15, requires every municipal water supplier to develop and implement a comprehensive cross-connection control program for the elimination of all existing cross-connections as well as the prevention of future cross-connections.
The La Crosse Water Utility system delivers safe, high-quality drinking water every day. The La Crosse Water Utility's Cross-Connection Control (CCC) Program is designed to continue to safeguard public health and keep the water system safe from contaminants and pollutants.
The La Crosse Water Utility has contracted with HydroCorp, Inc. of Troy, Michigan, and Brookfield, Wisconsin to manage our program. HydroCorp is an environmental services firm that specializes in backflow prevention and cross connection control. Though HydroCorp has been actively performing CCC inspections for commercial and industrial facilities in the City of La Crosse since 2006, inspections of residential properties began in the fall of 2011. They currently manage program services for over 80 municipalities and water utilities in Michigan and Wisconsin.
HydroCorp performs inspections of all commercial, industrial and residential buildings connected to the water supply to detect actual & potential cross connections and make recommendations for the installation of backflow prevention devices or assemblies where necessary. This will help ensure that contaminated or polluted water cannot backflow into clean drinking water.
These inspections happen on varying frequencies based on the hazard level of the facility. The current frequency is as follows:
- Residential (Approximately 750 inspections per year): 20 Year cycle
- Commercial Low Hazard: 6 or 10 Year cycle
- Commercial High Hazard/Industrial: 2 Year cycle
The La Crosse Water Utility is coordinating the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin's mandatory meter replacement program with the Residential CCC program on the 20 year cycle. Therefore when a residential inspection is performed, the water meter will also be exchanged. All commercial and industrial meters are tested more frequently and do not coordinate with the CCC inspection cycle.
What Is a Cross Connection Control Program?
This is a combined cooperative effort between plumbing and health officials, municipalities, and property owners to establish and administer guidelines for controlling cross connections and ensure their enforcement so that the public drinking water supply is protected both in the city water distribution system and within buildings to the point of use.
Our Control Program consists of the following components:
Public Education Program—We will inform our water customers with newsletters and brochures, public awareness meetings, and access to informational videos. Visit the Cross Connection Control Education & Resource Page for a list of websites with Cross Connection Control information.
Cross Connection Survey—All industrial, commercial, residential plumbing systems will be inspected to determine if cross connections exist.
Installation of Protective Devices—Backflow prevention devices or assemblies will need to be installed by the customer where known unprotected cross connections exist.
Testable Backflow Device Annual Testing—Customers must have all testable backflow prevention assemblies connected in their buildings tested once a year by certified testers.
What Is a Cross Connection?
A cross connection is a direct or potential connection between any part of the public water supply system and a source of contamination or pollution. The most common form of cross connection is a garden hose, which is easily connected to the public water supply system and can be used to apply a variety of potentially dangerous substances, including chemicals and fertilizer. Other common cross connections include dishwashers, toilets, pressure washers, boilers, pools, and lawn sprinkler systems.
How Does Contamination Occur?
Water normally flows in one direction, from the public water system through the customer’s cold or hot water plumbing system to a faucet or other plumbing fixture. Under certain conditions, water can flow in the reverse direction. This is known as backflow, and it occurs when backsiphonage or backpressure is created in a water line.
Back-siphonage may occur when there is a drop in the supply pressure of the water distribution system. This can be caused by a water line break, water main repair, or during a rapid withdrawal of water from a fire hydrant. This creates a vacuum, which may pull or siphon contaminants or pollutants into the drinking water supply.
Backpressure may be created when a source of pressure, such as a pump, boiler, or other building creates a pressure greater than that supplied from the water distribution system; this may force water to reverse direction.
What is a Cross Connection Survey?
The cross connection survey is the first step in our program. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Regulations (NR 810.15) recommends that all industrial, commercial, and institutional facilities be surveyed for cross connections regularly (every two to six years depending on the degree of hazard within the facility).
For all commercial and industrial facilities, a survey is a walk-through of the water-system piping in a building or property, starting at the water meter and ending at the last free-flowing tap. Survey time varies depending upon the facility being surveyed. Large, complex facilities will be required to prove that they have an internal program to protect the potable water system. At the end of the survey HydroCorp will produce a report describing any violations or discrepancies found, as well as a time frame for compliance.
In 2010, the DNR amended the mandated Cross-Connection Control program requirements for residential facilities, limiting the inspection to around the area near the water meter, which is typically in the basement. Since the utility is no longer required to inspect the entire property to the last free-flowing tap, the inspection is less intrusive on the homeowner and most appointments take approximately 15 minutes. In lieu of a more thorough inspection, the utility will must provide educational materials to property owners a minimum of every three years regarding safeguarding their homes from cross-connections.
When a property is due for an inspection, an initial Inspection notice will be mailed to water customers approximately two weeks before the scheduled inspection date. A building representative should be available during the inspection to answer questions and provide access to areas within the facility. All Residential inspections must be scheduled via the online scheduling website listed in the initial letter, or by calling the phone numbers provided. All commercial and industrial facilities are scheduled for specific dates with only the notice that a HydroCorp representative will arrive during normal business hours. It is the responsibility of the property owner, or their representative, to contact the phone number provided if a specific date and/or time is needed.
If the property is found to be compliant by a HydroCorp representative, a Compliance Tag will be attached to the meter. If violations were found and the property is non-compliant, the property owner, or their representative, will be provided a report indicating what steps need to be taken to bring the property into compliance. This my include the need for a property owner to purchase, install or test backflow prevention devices.
The customer will be notified when non-compliant that they must call the La Crosse Utilities Office to schedule a re-inspection once the property is brought to compliance. This must be done within two months of the initial inspection. The follow-up appointment is to ensure all required backflow prevention devices are installed correctly. The majority of re-inspections are completed by Water Utility personnel, and when approved, do not get tagged with the same Compliance Tag as those approved by HydroCorp.