Moving Forward in the Cross-Connection Industry

By: Sean Cleary 

If you have read my columns in the past you will remember a number of times I have written about how it is vitally important that all the stakeholders in the industry begin to work together to improve awareness and educate both the industry and the general public about the importance of cross-connection control and backflow prevention. This month I am pleased to announce that several of the major players in the industry have taken a first step in that direction. These groups which include the American Backflow Prevention Association (APBA), the American Society of Sanitary Engineering International (ASSE), the Backflow Prevention Manufacturers Association (BPMA), the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials Backflow Prevention Institute (IAPMO BPI). 

To some the position paper issued by these five organizations concerning basic standards for the training of individuals in backflow assembly testing may not seem like much. To me and many others in the industry, it is a milestone and represents a new commitment to innovation. It is huge leap forward in the right direction. For far too long many groups that share similar interests and goals in protecting our drinking water have been unable to work together and at times have allowed politics, market share, and personalities to stand in the way of any real collaboration. Moving forward it is the hope of the organizations involved in the effort that other groups will sign on to this paper and will join in the effort to help harmonize standards for both the education of individuals working in the industry and for the products standards used to test and approve the assemblies and devices used for cross-connection control throughout North America and beyond. 

Henry Ford once said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself”. I think Mr. Ford was correct in his thinking. The Backflow Symposium that was held on February 13th and 14th of last year at IAPMO Headquarters in Ontario, California got this discussion started. At the symposium it became clear that although there were some topics on which consensus among the attendees was impossible, in many other cases it was clear that the opportunity to work together for the common good existed, and a willingness to begin to collaborate on solutions and ideas was within our grasp. 

Moving forward I hope this is a new beginning of cooperation in the cross-connection industry. Let’s continue to build on these first simple steps. We need to establish a forum where new ideas and cooperation spark innovation in our training, in our education, and in our products. Please consider joining us in the work we are doing to protect and preserve of most precious resource, the water that gives us life.