This page provides a summary of the district's cross-connection control requirements.
Further information is available in our Policies and Procedures Manual - Effective May 1, 2023 (PDF), Section 5.3 Cross Connection Control and Section 2.7 Fire Service Lateral. If you have questions, please contact Cross-Connection Control.
What Is Backflow?
Backflow is the reversal flow of water, liquids, mixtures or substances from a customer's property into Helix's water distribution system. This can happen when there is a reversal in water pressure and a cross connection, a connection between the public water supply and a source of contamination, such as a garden hose in a swimming pool or an irrigation, fire sprinkler, graywater or rainwater harvesting system. Two conditions can cause a reversal in water pressure:
A sudden reduction in Helix's water pressure due to a water main break or vehicle running into a fire hydrant can create suction that draws potential contaminants into Helix's water distribution system
When a customer's water pressure exceeds Helix's water pressure, contaminants can flow into Helix's water distribution system. A well pump or boiler can cause back pressure.
An approved, aboveground, Reduced Pressure (RP) backflow prevention assembly is required for commercial, industrial, irrigation, and multiple dwelling water services.
An approved, aboveground Reduced Pressure Detector Assembly (RPDA) backflow prevention assembly is required on all fire service laterals.
Manufacturer cut sheets of the proposed RP and/or RPDA backflow assemblies shall be submitted to the District for approval. Only assemblies tested and approved by the University of Southern California Foundation for Cross-Connection Control Hydraulic Research shall be accepted. View List of Approved Backflow Prevention Assemblies.
For a fire service installation, the property owner(s) must complete and record a Fire Service Agreement and submit it with the legal description of the property.
Water Service Backflow Installation & Activation
Reduced Pressure (RP) assemblies shall be installed in accordance with California State Plumbing Code or the local governing authority and per drawing WR-01 of the Water Agencies' Standards. View Water Agencies' Standards.
RP assemblies shall be, at a minimum, the same size as the water meter size and in no case smaller than 3/4-inch. RP assemblies shall be located as close as practical to the meter box.
Fire Service Backflow Installation & Activation
Installation of an approved reduced pressure detector assembly (RPDA) backflow assembly shall be completed prior to activation of service by Helix Water District:
- The RPDA assembly shall be installed per drawing WF-05 of the Water Agencies' Standards. View Water Agencies' Standards.
- The contractor is responsible to forward all requirements to any/all subcontractors performing fire service installations.
- Construction of the District's lateral must be completed to the end of the District's responsibility before the private line is extended to serve the property.
- Contractor is to notify the Fire Department and Helix Water District to inspect the fire service pipe system and RPDA from the end of the District's responsibility to the building prior to backfill. Do not cover or bury the pipe prior to inspection.
- Once the District inspector has signed off on the inspection of the approved backflow assembly, the assembly must be tested by any company on the District's Approved Testers List within 30 days of installation. The certification test report form must be mailed or emailed to the District's Cross-Connection Control Coordinator.
- The RPDA must have passing test results prior to activation. Helix Water District shall be notified when the fire service is ready to be activated. Only Helix Water District personnel are allowed to operate the District's valve system.
Annual maintenance, testing, and certification are required for RP and RPDA assemblies and shall be done by a District-approved certified backflow assembly tester at the account holder or owner's expense. Copies of maintenance, repair, and certification data shall be mailed or emailed to the District's Cross-Connection Control Coordinator.
Residential dwellings mandated by the local fire marshal to have residential fire sprinkler systems are required to install a District-approved backflow prevention assembly (BPA) or passive purge system for system protection. There are three installation options for backflow prevention in residential dwellings.
If a Reduced Pressure or Double Check backflow assembly (Option 1 or 2) is selected, manufacturer cut sheets of the proposed backflow assembly shall be submitted to the District for approval. If Passive Purge (Option 3) is selected, building plans showing the passive purge system shall be submitted for review and approval.
Only Reduced Pressure or Double Check assemblies tested and approved by the University of Southern California Foundation for Cross-Connection Control Hydraulic Research shall be accepted.
View List of Approved Backflow Prevention Assemblies.
Note: Water services designated for irrigation must have a Reduced Pressure backflow assembly.
Reduced Pressure BPA (Option 1) or Double-Check BPA (Option 2)
Reduced Pressure (RP) and Double Check (DC) assemblies shall be installed in accordance with California State Plumbing Code or the local governing authority. Additionally, RP assemblies shall be installed per drawing WR-01 of the Water Agencies’ Standards. View Water Agencies Standards.
RP and DC assemblies shall be, at a minimum, the same size as the water meter size and in no case smaller than 3/4-inch. RP assemblies shall be located as close as practical to the meter box. DC assemblies shall be installed just after the point of connection (POC) feeding the fire service.
RP and DC assemblies shall be tested by any company on the District’s Approved Testers List within 30 days of installation. The certification test report form shall be mailed or emailed to the District’s Cross-Connection Control Coordinator. RP and DC assemblies must be tested prior to water service activation.
Passive Purge System (Option 3)
A passive Purge System (PPS) must have an isolation valve on the downstream side of the POC for testing purposes.
The fixture that the PPS connects to cannot flow above the alarm point.
All piping of the PPS must be inspected by the District’s Cross-Connection Control Coordinator during rough plumbing and at the finish.
The water meter will not be activated until the PPS has been completed or temporary backflow meter protection is in place.
For PPS, no annual testing is required after the final inspection by the District's Cross-Connection Control Coordinator. For RP and DC assemblies, annual maintenance, testing, and certification are required and shall be done by a District-approved certified backflow assembly tester at the account holder or owner's expense. Copies of maintenance, repair, and certification data must be mailed or emailed to the District's Cross-Connection Control Coordinator.
Backflow prevention assemblies must be tested on an annual basis to comply with the State of California Code of Regulations, Title 17, and Helix Water District Policies and Procedures, Section 5.3.
We will send an annual reminder notice to customers who are required to have a backflow assembly 30 days prior to the testing due date. It is the customer's responsibility to complete the testing.
Helix Water District is launching a new backflow platform which will require testers to submit backflow test reports online only.
We encourage you to sign up during this introductory phase to learn the new system prior to the start date. Please note, you will need to provide your testing certification and test kit information to enroll in the new platform.
Testers Applying for Helix Approval
To apply for approval, please enroll in our new backflow platform. The platform will request and review your testing certification and test kit information before allowing you to enroll.
How to Enroll
Go to https://www.bftester.com/helixca/. From this page you may:
- Request an Admin style account - for office staff
- Request individual Tester accounts - each tester must have their own email address to create an account
- Submit your testing certification and test kit information - this is required to sign up. Testers need to submit from their tester accounts
Our goals with implementing this software include improved compliance, an increase in on-time backflow tests, and reduced administrative burden.
If you need assistance registering, please contact SwiftComply at [email protected].
About Our Backflow Prevention Program
Backflow prevention assembly testers must be industry certified and approved by Helix Water District before testing within our service area. Approved testers are held to the highest standards of ethics and professionalism and Helix maintains the right to remove testers at its own discretion pursuant to Helix Water District Policies and Procedures, Section 5.3-3(D).
If you have question about the program, please contact:
Cross Connection Control Coordinator
Monday through Friday
7:30 am to 3:30 pm