Responsibilities of the Backflow Technician

Today’s cross connection professionals are knowledgeable and highly trained. You likely had to take classes and pass a state sanctioned test to be licensed as a plumber or cross connection technician. You feel confident in your technical skills and knowledge of test procedures. If you don’t know the answer you know where to find it. But do you know what your personal responsibilities are as across connection professional? In the following article we will be discussing the regulatory, legal and ethical responsibilities inherent in our trade.

In 1974 The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was established to protect the quality of drinking water in the U.S. This law focuses on all water actually or potentially designed for drinking use, whether from above ground or underground sources.

The Act authorizes EPA to establish minimum standards to protect tap water and requires all owners or operators of public water systems to comply with these primary(health-related) standards. The amendments to SDWA require that EPA consider a detailed risk and cost assessment, and best available superintendence, when developing these standards. State governments,which can be approved to implement these rules for EPA, also encourage attainment of secondary standards(nuisance-related).

Under the Act, EPA also establishes minimum standards for state programs to protect underground sources of drinking water from endangerment by underground injection of fluids.1 These programs oversee local government and water authorities to ensure clean, safe water is available for all citizens. It is important as professionals that we are familiar with these regulations.

Local authorities may require that individuals installing, servicing or testing cross connection devices have tradesman’s or journeyman plumber’s license. A state board or agency provides oversight of the licensing process and handles complaints such as unlicensed contractors and fraud.They also ensure that the information provided to obtain your license inaccurate and up to date. Working without the required license or providing false information to obtain one are violations of state law and may lead to fines and criminal prosecution.

Continuing education is also widespread requirement to maintain your license. It is important that you obtain the correct contractors or business licenses required by your local jurisdiction and follow all legal requirements.

It is your responsibility to keep up to date on the laws and regulations governing your profession. If you were not sure how to do so contact your local board or agency. Many of the agencies have a website providing this information or allow you to sign up to receive updates via email. You may be required to immediately report any felony or fraud convictions to your board.

Utilizing the correct cross connection device in each application is extremely important.

Cross connection professional’s need to be familiar with local code requirements. Information as to what code version is required in your area can be found at your local building department. I recommend keeping copy of the current code edition for your area with you at all times while working. Your local building inspectors are also a good source of information as to proper installation methods. If during testing, you encounter cross connection devices that are not suitable for that application or are improperly installed you are responsible to fail the device and report it to the owner and the local authority. Failure to do so could lead to liability if the device were to fail or allow contamination of the water supply.

As cross connection professional sour job is more than taking a few readings and filling out a form. You may encounter other cross connection workers that will tell you that cutting corners or sloppy work is no big deal. Testing cross connection devices is just bureaucratic red tape anyway, right?

I strongly disagree with that. We literally hold the well being of our community in our hands with our most vulnerable citizens, the elderly, the young and the ill are all depending on us to safeguard their drinking water. Beyond the possibility of personal legal liability if fault your dishonest work led to injury, I personally feel an ethical and moral responsibility to perform my work to the best of my ability. After reading this article I hope that you do too.1 42 U.S.C. §300 fet seq. (1974)

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