Cross Connection Control Program (Backflow)

Welcome to our cross connection section. These connections are a specific class of connections to the distribution system that pose or could pose a health risk. Some of the more common cross connections in Topsfield include:

  • Filling a swimming pool with a garden hose while the end of the hose is below the flood rim of the pool.
  • Certain types of fire suppression systems.
  • Chemical mixing tanks.
  • Certain types of heating, ventilation and cooling systems.

Cross connections are pathways that could introduce contamination to the water distribution system under certain hydraulic conditions. We are required by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to run a Cross Connection Control Program to make sure these connections are properly protected by a backflow prevention device or eliminated. Some devices require annual or semi-annual testing based on the degree of hazard and we are required to make sure tests are done according to MassDEP's schedule.

What is a cross connection? It's an actual or potential connection between a potable water line and any waste pipe, soil pipe, sewer, drain or other unapproved source. These connections pose a threat to public health by allowing contaminants to be siphoned or forced into the public drinking water system under certain hydraulic conditions.

In a residential setting, cross connections include submerged hoses, lawn irrigation systems, chemical spray applicators, connections to private wells, boilers, solar heating systems and fire sprinkler systems. These connections, if left unprotected, could introduce contaminants to the water system. Consumers play an important role in protecting public health by notifying the Water Department of any cross connections and helping to eliminate or properly protect the connection by installing a backflow prevention device.

Prior to the creation of any cross connection or installation of a double check valve assembly or reduced pressure backflow preventer, the owner or their agent must file for a Cross Connection Permit. Click here to obtain the permit application form.

The permit will be reviewed to make sure the proper device is selected to protect the cross connection and that the proposed installation meets the requirements of 310 CMR 22.22. Applicants should take care to make sure all requirements are met otherwise the permit can not be issued.

Once the permit is approved and all other required permits have been obtained the applicant can proceed with installation of the device(s). Once installed the devices must be inspected and tested.

sinkWe are required to run a Cross Connection Control Program by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. DEP regulations, 310 CMR 22.22, along with the plumbing code govern cross connections.

According to DEP regulations, public water suppliers are required to:

  1. Control cross connections to the last free flowing outlet of the consumer.
  2. Have an approved Cross Connection Control Program (CCCP)
  3. Inspect all non-residential properties connected to the distribution system for cross connections.
  4. Maintain records including all correspondence, program plan, testing records, violation notices and other documents for inspection by DEP.
  5. Ensure all devices are tested by a DEP Certified Backflow Prevention Device Tester and all surveys are conducted by a DEP Certified Cross Connection Control Surveyor.
  6. Establishing a cross connection control program for residential customers including an educational component.
  7. Not allowing any cross connections in the system unless properly permitted and approved.
  8. Ensuring all double check valve assemblies and reduced pressure backflow preventers are tested according to schedule.
  9. Notifying owner's of the connections when they are in violation of the regulations.

Owners of the connections are required to:

  1. Notify the public water supplier of any connections protected by a double check valve assembly or reduced pressure backflow preventer.
  2. Make suitable arrangements so the devices can be inspected and tested during normal business hours.
  3. Maintain spare parts kits and any special tools needed to repair their devices.
  4. Overhaul, repair or replace any device that fails a test or is otherwise defective within 14 days of the initial inspection.
  5. Submit copies of inspection and maintenance forms to the water supplier.
  6. Maintain on premises testing records, approvals and other documents pertaining to the device(s).
  7. Make certain devices are tested according to DEP regulations or as required by the water supplier.


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Water Department

279 Boston Street

Topsfield, MA 01983


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Highway Department

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Topsfield, MA 01983


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