Backflow/Cross-Connections

Backflow / Cross Connection Control

Birmingham Water Works’ Backflow and Cross Connection Control program protects our water supply from pollutants and contaminants that could, under certain circumstances, be drawn into the public water supply from private properties.

Birmingham Water Works is required by law to establish and operate a backflow and cross-connection program. All commercial, industrial, domestic, irrigation and fire line services are required to have an approved backflow prevention assembly installed.

Requirements for multi- and single-family residences are assessed based on site hazards. All customers with an auxiliary water supply, such as a well or a pond, are also required to install and maintain backflow prevention assemblies. Some businesses such as hospitals, healthcare facilities, chemical plants, mortuaries, restaurants, car washes and sewage treatment plants are required to install high hazard backflow prevention assemblies and have them tested annually.

 

Definitions:

Backflow - is a reversal of the normal flow of water

Cross-Connection - a physical connection between drinkable water and a liquid or gas that could make the water unsafe to drink (wherever there is a cross connection, there is a potential threat to public health)

Backpressure - when the customer's pressure exceeds the supply pressure.

Back-Siphonage - when the supply line pressure falls below atmospheric pressure.

 

Your Home Can Be a Source of Cross-Contamination

There are many things on a customer's property that has the possibility for exposure to cross- contamination that can harm you and your family, and your neighbors too.

Garden Hose

The garden hose is the most common form of cross-connection that can contaminate the water supply. Here are a few ways that a garden hose can contaminate the water:

  • Connecting it directly to a garden sprayer to apply pesticide or fertilizer to the yard.
  • Connecting it to a soap and brush attachment to wash your car.
  • Letting the end of the hose sit submerged in a puddle or a pool of water, such as a swimming pool

You can prevent these things from happening if you attach a hose bibb vacuum breaker on the outside faucet that you attach your garden hose to.

Irrigation System

If your home has an irrigation system, you must have a proper and suitable backflow prevention assembly installed correctly. If you do not have a backflow prevention assembly installed on your line there are certified testers and installers of backflow prevention assemblies that can help you. After having a backflow installed, the backflow must be tested on an annual basis to ensure that the backflow assembly is still operating properly.

Swimming Pools

Swimming pools also pose a possible threat to the water supply due to the use of chlorine and other chemicals that can be used to clean the water. Many residences use a garden hose to fill up their swimming pool which is also a form of cross connection.

* Ground wells also fall up under this category and a backflow must be installed on the property.

 

Water Well Backflow Prevention Requirements

Backflow Prevention and Water Wells - Water from a well is considered an auxiliary water source (see: The Water Works Board of the City of Birmingham Alabama Cross Connection Control and Backflow Prevention Policy Manual – Section 2.3, Page 2). Any customer that uses an auxiliary water source must have backflow prevention and cross connection controls to prevent the contamination of the potable water system. It is critical that you pay careful attention to this requirement.

  • At any residence or establishment where an actual or potential contamination hazard exists, additional protection shall be required at the meter in the form a backflow prevention assembly. The type of backflow prevention assembly required for all wells shall be a RPZ (Reduce Pressure Zone) Assembly.
  • It is a VIOLATION for any person to construct, install, alter, or cause to be constructed, installed, or altered any reclaimed water or other auxiliary water system within a building or on a premise that Birmingham Water Works serves without being inspected by the Water Board’s Backflow Inspector.
  • A person may not connect an auxiliary water supply to the consumer’s water system unless a backflow prevention assembly is installed as required by the Water Board’s Backflow and Cross Connection Policy. Customers found in violation could be subject to water service termination in accordance with the Water Board’s Cross Connection Control and Backflow Prevention Policy Auxiliary Water Supply: Any water supply on, or available to, a premise other than the Water Board’s public potable supply. These auxiliary waters may include water from another purveyor’s public potable water supply or any natural source such as a well, spring, river, stream, harbor, pond, etc.

Additional Backflow Resources

    Frequently Asked Questions (pdf)

    Backflow Policy (pdf) 

    Backflow Specification Manuals:

 

Fire Service Repairs

Another part of the Backflow Department is dealing with fire services. Backflow prevention assemblies must be installed on all fire service lines and any domestic service lines that are 2" and larger. If you have any problems with your fire service and it needs to be repaired you must contact Chris Stewart (244-4256) or William Clay (244-4254) to have the fire service shut-off. The customer is responsible for the repairs of the fire service as well as the upkeep and maintenance of the fire service which is stated in the contracts. The customer must also send a letter via email to backflow@bwwb.org stating that they are giving permission for the Birmingham Water Works to shut off their fire service for repairs. The Birmingham Water Works Board requires a 72 hour notice in advance before any repairs are made. If the valve in the street is not accessible, BWWB will contact our valve crew to uncover the valve, which may lengthen the time for the shut-off process to be completed.

Please see this list of APPROVED CERTIFIED FIRE SERVICE REPAIR (pdf)
   *Birmingham Water Works Board does NOT receive any profit from the repairs being made. Repairs can only be made by a company on this list.

New Installation (Fire Services and Large Diameter Domestic Services)

If you are looking to do new construction that involves Fire Service(s) and/or Domestic Service(s) that are 4” and larger, please complete this Application for Service Connection Form.

 

BWWB Backflow Department Contact Information

Backflow Contact Email:
    
backflow@bwwb.org

Backflow Support:  Backflow test reports, backflow submissions, fire service inspections, shut-offs due to repairs or any other inquires dealing with fire service(s)
     William Clay, Backflow Inspector  - (205) 244-4254
     Chris Stewart, Backflow Specialist - (205) 244-4256

Fire Service Projects:  New fire service and domestic service installations - 4" and larger or updates to existing fire service(s)
     Chris Kilgo, Project Coordinator - (205) 244-4255    

Superintendent of the Backflow /  Cross-Connection Department:
   
Darrell Bronson - (205) 244-4258

Manager of Backflow and System Development Departments:
    Doug Stockham - (205) 244-4186