Backflow Prevention and Cross Connection Control

Backflow is a term used in plumbing for an unwanted flow of water in the reverse direction.1 A backflow prevention device is used to protect potable water supplies from contamination or pollution due to backflow.

In water supply systems, water is normally maintained at a significant pressure to enable water to flow from the tap, shower, or other fixture. Water pressure may fail or be reduced when a water main bursts, pipes freeze, or there is unexpectedly high demand on the water system (for example, when several fire hydrants are opened). Reduced pressure in the pipe may allow contaminated water from the soil, from storage, or from other sources to be drawn up into the distribution system.2

The risks of backflow can be mitigated through preventative measures such as the installation of backflow prevention devices and through education to ensure that cross-connections (between potable water systems and other plumbing systems) do not occur.3

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Indiana State Department of Health, along with the Indiana Plumbing Code, have established regulations to protect the quality of water in the drinking water distribution network. These regulations and obligations for the consumer and the water utility are summarized in the pdf Cross Connection Control and Backflow Prevention Manual available from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management website.

Citizens Energy Group has partnered with Aqua Backflow, a leading technology-based backflow management firm, to implement this program to protect the public drinking water supply from backflow contamination. Citizens will only accept required backflow device test results submitted electronically through the new Aqua Backflow web portal or mobile app. All backflow testers must be certified by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and registered with Aqua Backflow prior to submitting testing results. For more information on Aqua Backflow, or to register as a tester, please visit Aqua Backflow.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a cross connection?

A cross connection is any physical arrangement whereby a public water supply is connected, directly or indirectly, with any secondary water supply system, sewer, drain, conduit, pool, storage reservoir, plumbing fixture, or other device which contains or may contain any water, contaminated liquid, or other waste of unknown or unsafe quality that could impart a contaminant or pollutant to the drinking water as a result of backflow caused by backpressure or backsiphonage.

What is backflow?

Backflow is generally defined as the flow of any foreign liquid, gas, or other substance into the distributing pipelines of a potable supply of water from any source or sources other than the intended one.

For backflow to occur, two conditions must be present:

  1. A link must exist between the potable and the nonpotable system.

  2. The resultant flow produced by the differential pressure must be toward the potable system. If both systems are at pressures greater than atmospheric (positive pressure), backflow due to backpressure can occur. A pump, elevated tank, or boiler can create a backpressure that is greater than the pressure in the potable system. If the potable system is at a pressure less than atmospheric (negative pressure), the atmospheric pressure on the foreign liquid will force it toward the partial vacuum and backsiphonage occurs. A more explicit term for backflow when sub-atmospheric pressure exists, backsiphonage is the backing up, or siphoning, of a foreign liquid into a potable water system.

What is a backflow prevention device?

A backflow prevention device, also referred to as a cross-connection control device, is any device or assembly that is capable of preventing contaminants from entering the public water supply distribution system. 

What are the common types of backflow prevention devices?




For more information regarding backflow prevention and the compliance requirements, view the Adobe PDF Indiana Department of Environmental Management Cross Connection Control and Backflow Prevention Manual.

How do I know if I have a backflow prevention device installed?

Your plumber or irrigation contractor will know if you have one installed. We recommend you contact them. However, you can also do a cursory inspection around your house. Look for two plumbing pipes that extend above the ground and has a dome (often made of brass) about the size of a large apple that connects the two pipes. This is likely your backflow device. Again, if you have any doubt, call a plumber or irrigation specialist.

As a customer, what are my responsibilities related to backflow prevention?

The customer has the primary responsibility of preventing pollutants and contaminants from entering their potable water system or the public potable water system. The customer’s responsibility starts at the point of delivery from the public water supply and includes all water conditioning equipment and piping.

When it is determined that a cross connection exists on the customer’s water line, the customer shall be required to:

  • Install an approved backflow prevention assembly at each service connection at their own expense.

  • Properly repair and maintain the device or devices.

  • Have the device or devices tested by a tester certified by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management no less frequently than annually and submit the results of testing to Aqua Backflow, the companying managing records on behalf of Citizens Energy Group.

  • Keep adequate records of each test and subsequent maintenance and repair of the device or devices.

Customers are obligated to notify Citizens Energy Group whenever changes are made to their systems that may warrant backflow prevention and cross-connection control. 

I received a letter from a company called Aqua Backflow regarding backflow prevention. Are they a trusted partner of Citizens Energy Group?

Yes. Citizens will only accept backflow device test results via Aqua Backflow. Testers must currently be certified by IDEM, and will be required to register with Aqua Backflow at prior to submitting testing results.

Who can test my backflow device?

IDEM requires backflow prevention devices to be tested annually at the owner’s expense. You must use an IDEM certified backflow tester. Testers are certified by IDEM after attending a 35-hour training class, passing a written examination and successfully completing tests on actual backflow devices. Customers can search the IDEM website for a certified tester. Once the test is complete, the customer or tester must submit documentation to Citizens.

How do I submit my backflow test result to Citizens?

Citizens will only accept backflow device test results at Testers must currently be certified by IDEM, and will be required to register with Aqua Backflow at prior to submitting testing results.

I am a device tester, how do I submit test information?

If you have not already done so, please register as a tester at You will be issued a user name and password for online access. Be sure to keep your licensing, certifications, kit calibrations, etc. current with us.

Online data entry is performed by simply entering the backflow assembly serial # and building # (address), OR entering only the Hazard ID # associated with that specific hazard, OR entering the Site ID #. Your customer’s ‘Test Due’ letter will contain all pertinent information. Your online portal will also contain this information on your existing customers.

If you have questions or need further information, please contact Aqua Backflow directly at (847) 742-2296 or email

pdf Access Training Doc

What if I no longer use my irrigation system?

If you decide you no longer wish to use your irrigation system, it must be properly disconnected. Aqua Backflow must be notified at (847) 742-2296 or so we may inspect the work and indicate in our system that you no longer need to submit annual device testing results. If you decide you do not want to use your irrigation system but you do not want to disconnect it, you are still required to test your system annually.

pdf Disconnecting-Capping-Irrigation-Systems-Line-of-Communication

Who regulates backflow prevention?

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management regulates backflow prevention and cross connection control via the Indiana Administrative Code regulations under Title 327 IAC 8-10The Indiana Department of Environmental Management requires drinking water utilities to implement a backflow prevention and cross connection control program that includes a record of customers whose premises require backflow prevention devices and a record of the tests and results of tests for those devices.

For more information regarding backflow prevention and the compliance requirements, view the pdf Indiana Department of Environmental Management Cross Connection Control and Backflow Prevention Manual.

If you have any questions regarding Backflow Prevention or Backflow Device Testing, please contact Aqua Backflow at (847) 742-2296 or