“Small changes can make a big difference.”
In our previous blog post, we explained why and what rules support a backflow program. Today we are talking about what a comprehensive backflow program looks like. We repeatedly hear from utility operators, public works director’s, and environmental/code compliance specialists is, “I don’t have enough time to manage a backflow program!” or if they are a cross-connection control specialist, “I need help!”.
Cross-connection control and backflow management is a non-funded, mandate by the EPA and local regulations. Since programs are not funded, it means cross-connection program management is normally added to staff’s already lengthy job description. Cross-connection data management is normally conceived as (maybe slightly exaggerated for effect), “We need to do something, so just give the responsibility to water quality or water operations.” Or “Create an email for tests, licenses, test gauge calibrations, they can all go there, in one place”. These are normally reactive situations we see all the time at BSI and are normally made without realizing the full scope of managing the data dumped into an email or what a cross-connection control program really needs. Those dynamic parts need the attention exceeding what a municipality can offer.
What are the facets of a required CCC program? We paraphrased from the EPA Cross Connection Control Manual 2003 for you:
1. Ordinance review and/or creation – rules in regard to devices, testing, notifications, fees, backflow licenses and non-compliance actions.
2. Inform the public about cross-connection control program via different medias.
3. Send employee who will administer the program to a cross-connection control course and/or certification.
4. Buy municipal owned test gauges, if you have in house testers.
5. Inform local plumbers of program and update frequently on permits, regulations, changes.
6. Conduct survey and/or remediation of commercial, industrial, and residential properties.
7. Physically inspect to ensure plumbing code is met, installed according to engineering drawings & permits.
8. Partner with building code official to ensure the proper installation/permit for all new installs.
9. During meter checks for residents, check on backflows to ensure proper installation, device, etc.
10. Keep track of tester licenses’, test gauge calibrations, and/or municipal registration annually.
11. Monitor test submission, accuracy of information on tests, and legitimacy of tester who performed said test.
12. Follow up to survey, inspections, remediation, etc.
13. Lucky #13! – follow up with all customer phone calls, emails, and visits to your department in regard to backflow and backflow management.
PHEW! Now, how do you manage all facets of the EPA requirement for cross-connection control programs? Of course, there are multiple ways to manage a CCC program such as in-house, in-house with software, hiring a dedicated cross-connection control specialist but we are particularly biased to outsourcing, especially to BSI Online (the nation’s only US patented program and largest backflow management firm in the country!). Below is a cost comparison analysis of an in-house program:
Now this analysis is strictly in-house, meaning no software packages were built in. Once you consider the cost of software, your annual cost can grow EXPONENTIALLY. You are expected to do more with less, resources are dwindling each year, and your job duties grow bigger year after year.
Turn to the experts, BSI Online. We INVENTED the concept of online cross-connection control management (US Patent #8463823)! When you are our customer, we provide you with world class service and expertise on all facets of your cross-connection control program.