Protecting your drinking water supply is everyone’s responsibility. State regulations require residential, commercial and industrial customers served by a public water system to protect the public water system from potential contamination. Under certain conditions water from private plumbing can flow into the public water distribution system, this is referred to as backflow. In order to prevent potential backflow, some customers are required to install and maintain backflow prevention devices on the main water service lines.

Virginia American Water has partnered with Backflow Solutions, Inc. or BSI Online, the nation’s leading backflow data management firm. BSI is fully devoted to helping public water systems with the development, implementation, and maintenance of cross-connection control programs. Inquiries regarding your testable backflow device should be directed to BSI Online at 888-966-6050 or All inquiries regarding non-testable devices should be forwarded to 804-446-9826 or

Please check your test/inspect letter to verify if you have a testable or non-testable device. Non-testable devices are listed as Residential Dual Checks (RDC) and need to be either inspected, repaired, or replaced every five years. All other devices are testable and require testing reported annually through BSI Online.

Important Update from the Virginia Department of Health: Effective January 1, 2023 

Re: 12VAC5-590-630. Backflow prevention assemblies, devices, and backflow elimination methods for containment. 

Starting January 1, 2023, persons testing and repairing backflow prevention assemblies and backflow prevention devices shall be certified by a Commonwealth of Virginia tradesman certification program (identified by DPOR as backflow prevention device workers).  

Visit the DPOR website to confirm an individual is an approved backflow prevention device worker. 

What is Cross Connection?

Cross Connection is any actual or physical connection between a potable (drinkable) water supply and any source of non-potable liquid, solid or gas that could contaminate drinking water under certain circumstances.

What is Backflow?

Backflow is the reverse flow of water or other substances into the treated drinking water distribution system. There are two types of backflow: backpressure and backsiphonage.

  • Backpressure happens when the pressure of the contaminant source exceeds the positive pressure in the water distribution main. An example would be when a drinking water supply main has a connection to a hot water boiler system that is not protected by an approved and functioning backflow preventer. If pressure in the boiler system increases to where it exceeds the pressure in the water distribution system, backflow from the boiler to the drinking water supply system may occur.  
  • Backsiphonage is caused by a negative pressure (vacuum or partial vacuum) in the water distribution system. This situation is similar in effect to the sipping of water through a straw. In the drinking water distribution system, negative pressure (backsiphonage) occurs during a water main break or when a hydrant is used for fire fighting.

Why should you be concerned?

Backflow may affect the quality of the drinking water at your home, business or facility and has the potential to create health hazards if contaminated water enters your water supply plumbing system and is used for drinking, cooking or bathing. Backflow events occur more often than you might think although most do not create health hazards. Unprotected cross-connections with water supply plumbing or public drinking water piping systems are prohibited. We are all responsible for protecting our water supply from backflow that may contaminate our drinking water. It includes complying with the plumbing code and avoiding unprotected cross connections.

Who is responsible?

The responsibility for preventing backflow is divided. In general, state and local plumbing inspectors have authority over plumbing systems within buildings while state regulatory agencies and public water suppliers regulate protection of the distribution system at each service connection. Water customers have the ultimate responsibility for properly maintaining their plumbing systems. It is the water customer’s responsibility to ensure that unprotected cross-connections are not created and that any required backflow prevention devices are tested in accordance with state requirements and maintained in operable condition.

Preventing backflow situations in your home and business

  • Be aware of cross connections, eliminate or isolate them
  • Maintain air gaps on sinks and when using hoses.
  • Do not submerge hoses or place them where they could become submerged.
  • Use hose bib vacuum breakers on fixtures (hose connections in the basement, laundry room, and on outside faucets/spigots).
  • Install approved backflow prevention devices on lawn irrigation systems and on fire sprinkler system services. Types of preventative required devices are determined based on the potential type of pollutants or contaminants high, low or moderate. In low hazard situations, the installation of a residential dual-check device might be allowed.

Failure to comply can result in water service disconnection after repeated request from our Cross Connection department. 

If you have any questions regarding your backflow device and/or testing, please call BSI Online at 888-966-6050 or email Failure to comply can result in water service disconnection after repeated request from BSI Online. If your letter is regarding water service disconnection or for more information regarding Cross Connections, please call our Cross Connection Hotline at 804-446-9826 or email us at


Definition of Backflow and Cross Connection
Cross Connection Control Requirements
Ways to Protect from Backflow
Typical Facilities and Recommended Backflow Preventers
Residential Customer Requirements