Cross-Connection and Backflow Prevention

The Town of Harwich works very hard to protect the quality of the water delivered to our customers from the time the water is extracted via deep wells from underground aquifers to when it reached our customers. But what happens to the water after it is delivered? Is there still a need to protect the water quality from contamination caused by a cross-connection?

What is a cross-connection?

A cross-connection occurs whenever the drinking water supply is or could be in contact with potential sources of pollution or contamination. Cross-connections exist in piping arrangements or equipment that allows the drinking water to come in contact with non-potable liquids, solids or gases (hazardous to humans) in event of a backflow.

What is a backflow?

Backflow is the undesired reverse of the water flow in the drinking water distribution lines. This backward flow of water can occur when the pressure created by an equipment or system such as a boiler or air-conditioning is higher than the water pressure inside the water distribution line (backpressure), or when the pressure in the distribution line drops due to routine occurrences such as water main breaks or heavy water demand causing the water to flow backward inside the water distribution system (backsiphonage). Backflow is a problem that many water consumers are unaware of, a problem that each and every water customer has a responsibility to help prevent.

What can I do to help prevent a cross-connection?

Without the proper protection something as simple as a garden hose has the potential to contaminate or pollute the drinking water lines in your house. In fact over half of the country's cross-connection incidents involve unprotected garden hoses. There are very simple steps that you as a drinking water user can take to prevent such hazards, they are:

If you are the owner or manager of a property that is being used as a commercial, industrial or institutional facility, you must have your plumbing system surveyed for cross-connections. If your property has NOT been surveyed for cross-connections, contact the Harwich Water Department at 508-432-0304 to schedule a cross-connection survey.