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A cross-connection is when a non-potable substance comes into contact with the potable drinking water supply.
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Backflow is when the normal flow of water is reversed from its intended direction in any pipeline or plumbing system. When cross-connections exist, this can cause containments to enter the pipeline or distribution system.
Backpressure is a resistance or force opposing the desired flow in a pipeline.
Back-Siphonage is the reversal of normal flow in a system caused by negative pressure. Things that can cause this would be a water break, or using a fire hydrant.
A backflow preventer is a testable or non-testable cross-connection control device that prevents potential pollutants and contaminants from flowing into the public water system.
Owners of any industrial, commercial, agricultural, municipal and / or private residence are required to eliminate any cross-connections. If the cross-connection cannot be eliminated, then a backflow device may be required.