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Winter Park-Maitland Observer
Irrigation Systems and Cross Connection Control


City Talk Submission
Irrigation Systems and Cross Connection Control
By Robert Hyden, Water Superintendent, City of Maitland
Submission Date: July 15, 2014
At your residence, do you have an irrigation system? Does your irrigation system have a backflow device? Is it the correct device that meets the current code? As this device is out of sight and out of mind, does it still work correctly? When was the last time it was tested?
Did you know that without the correct backflow device installed on your irrigation system that there is the potential that if the City water system lost pressure that your irrigation system could contaminate the community water supply? It can happen and it sometimes it does. There have been reported cases where other community water systems have suffered from cross contamination in just the same way.
How does it happen?
Most irrigation systems have sprinkler heads that are flush or slightly below ground level. Those lush green lawns are often treated with fertilizers, pesticides, and targeted herbicides, none of which you would want to have in your drinking water. When the water system loses pressure such as during a system shut down for a broken water main or if a fire hydrant is opened and creates a high flow through the water main, a suction effect is created which is called backflow. This is very similar to drinking a liquid through a straw. Some residents irrigate by means of a well or from a surface body of water such as a lake. Some of these systems are also connected to the City water supply, so that in the event that there is a problem with the irrigation pump the lawn can be watered using the City water supply. These irrigation pumps can push raw untreated water into the community water supply. A backflow device is a type of valve that only allows water to flow in one direction. This one direction valve prevents anything from the homeowner’s water system from flowing backwards into the community water system.
When a homeowner installs an irrigation system, the correct procedure is that an irrigation permit should be applied for so that inspectors from the both the City’s Building Department and the Water Division can check the system for proper installation, cross connections and that the correct backflow device is installed. Many homeowners are unaware that this requires a permit. The permit is $25.00 and easily obtained from the Building Department located at City Hall.
The City of Maitland’s Public Works Water Division is requesting homeowners that have irrigation systems, whether the irrigation system is supplied from the City’s water system or other means such as an irrigation pump or well, to contact the Cross Connection Control section at 407-539-6246 to schedule an inspection. This inspection is at no charge to the homeowner and in most cases the inspection can be performed without the need for the homeowner to be present.  
A City Cross Connection Control Technician can provide the correct information to help you bring your property into compliance, and most importantly we can all do our part to ensure that our community water system does not become contaminated. We all have to do our part to maintain our reliable and safe water system.


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