A "cross connection" is an unprotected actual or potential connection between a potable water system (water that is safe for drinking) and any source or system containing water or other substance that is not safe, wholesome and fit for human consumption.
The Environmental Health Division conducts cross connection control inspections within water users' premises and at recycled water use areas to ensure that the drinking water supply is not connected to potential sources of contamination. We also certify backflow prevention device testers. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at (714) 433-6284.
Note to certified backflow testers: the County of Orange is now accepting completed backflow test reports via email. PDF/scanned versions of the original documents can be sent via email to OCBackFlowTests@ochca.com. When scanning the documents we request that you please separate them by water purveyor.
The backflow prevention device tester certification program was established to ensure that only persons who have demonstrated their competency to the Orange County Environmental Health Division may test backflow prevention devices. No person may test a backflow prevention device in Orange County without certification from Orange County Environmental Health. Click on the text below to jump to the specific sections.
Requirements for certification and re-certification
To qualify for certification, a person must have attended and passed a backflow device tester's course that is approved by Orange County Environmental Health. The course must provide at least forty hours of instruction covering theory, testing and maintenance of backflow prevention devices, and the applicable laws and regulations relating thereto. Approved tester's courses include, but are not limited to: Rancho Santiago College Water Utilities Science 106, the USC Foundation for Cross Connection Control and Hydraulic Research short course, or other approved community college backflow testing courses or equivalent.
The applicant must call (714) 433-6284 to schedule an appointment to obtain and complete a tester's application form and take the certification exam.
Any person applying for initial certification may be required to pass both a written and a performance (practical) exam. A score of at least 80% must be attained on the written exam in order to qualify for the practical exam. The practical exam consists of testing a pressure vacuum breaker, a double check valve backflow prevention device and a reduced pressure principle backflow prevention device. Other backflow prevention devices that are approved in the future by the USC Foundation for Cross Connection Control, the State Department of Health Services and Orange County Environmental Health may also be included in the certification exam. During the practical examination, a test report form must be completed for each device tested. Also, oral troubleshooting questions may be asked during the practical examination.
The certified tester must pay all applicable fees to Environmental Health prior to testing backflow prevention devices in Orange County.
The following persons are required to complete and pass the Environmental Health Cross Connection written exam:
All applicants of the Orange County certification program who have graduated from an approved tester's course, unless they show proof that they have passed an equivalent written exam.
Persons whose certification expired more than one year ago. If the tester's certification has been expired for more than two years, the tester will be required to attend and pass an approved tester's course in order to re-certify.
If a person has received the American Water Works Association (AWWA) tester certification within one month prior to applying for Orange County certification, both the written and practical exams may be waived by Orange County Environmental Health.
An applicant who has current certification in another jurisdiction and has passed an approved backflow prevention device tester's course will be required to take the practical exam only.
Applicants and testers shall use only the test procedures approved by Orange County Environmental Health. Unless otherwise specified, the test procedures in the most current edition of the USC Manual of Cross Connection Control will be used.
Re-certification notices shall be sent by Orange County Environmental Health to the tester's home address approximately 90 days prior to expiration. Testers must notify Environmental Health of an address change immediately. The notice shall list available re-certification dates; it is the tester's responsibility to take his/her re-certification exam at the time and date specified. Re-certification consists of the practical test only if the tester is re-certifying within one year of his/her expiration date.
Upon successful completion of the written and/or practical examination, a tester shall agree in writing to comply with all provisions in the most recent Code of Conduct adopted by Environmental Health and the Orange County Cross Connection Control Group.
A certified tester may choose to be placed on the list of Orange County certified testers. To be placed on the certified tester list, a tester must be currently certified by Orange County Environmental Health, possess approved test gauge/gauges, and pay the tester's list fee. The County list is organized by city, with testers listed under one city on the basis of the seniority of their tester number. The tester list is organized in this way to facilitate a business' attempt to find testers working in their area. Although a tester is listed under one city, he/she may test throughout Orange County. The tester list is updated on February 1 and July 1.
Certification, re-certification and tester list fees are set by the Orange County Board of Supervisors and are subject to change. The fees are based on a two-year certification period.
General Provision for Certified Testers
The certification is issued in the name of the tester. It is the responsibility of the tester to comply with all related laws, regulations and policies.
Tester certification is valid for a two (2) year period.
A person is not required to have a State contractor's license to be a certified tester.
It is the tester's responsibility to ensure that he/she has all required business licenses, contractor's license, insurance, etc., for his/her particular business, as required by State and local laws and/or regulations. State law requires that anyone who contracts to do construction work be licensed by the Contractor's State License Board in the license category in which the contractor is going to be working if the total price of the job is $500 or more (including labor and materials).
Testers shall maintain their gauges in good repair and have them calibrated/repaired when necessary. Orange County Environmental Health may require repair or calibration of a gauge when necessary.
A tester shall submit a test report to Orange County Environmental Health and the water supplier in whose jurisdiction the backflow prevention device is located for every test that he/she performs. The test report shall be filled out completely with all required information. The test report shall indicate any failure of the device and any type of repair including cleaning. The test report shall be submitted within ten (10) days of testing the device. If there must be a delay in the submission of a report, the tester shall contact the water agency Cross Connection Specialist in whose jurisdiction the device is located, or Orange County Environmental Health.
The tester shall ensure that he/she is using the proper test report form as required by the water agency and/or Orange County.
A tester shall not knowingly file a false statement or report regarding a backflow prevention device.
A tester shall be familiar with and comply with all testing and backflow device requirements adopted by Orange County Environmental Health. Only backflow prevention devices approved by the State Department of Health Services and/or the USC Foundation shall be used in Orange County. Atmospheric vacuum breakers installed in Orange County shall be approved by the Los Angeles City Mechanical Testing Lab.
A tester shall not remove, replace or relocate a backflow prevention device without the approval of Orange County Environmental Health and/or the water agency in whose jurisdiction the device is located. When a device is installed, repaired or relocated, it shall be tested prior to being placed into service.
A tester must attend an approved backflow tester's update/review at least once every two years to qualify for re-certification and/or to maintain his/her certification.
Violations and penalties
The Health Officer of Orange County, or his or her designee, may suspend, revoke or refuse to renew the certificate of a tester, if, after a hearing before the Health Officer, or his or her designee, finds that the tester has practiced fraud or deception or has displayed gross negligence or misconduct in the performance of his or her duties as a certified backflow prevention device tester.
Any violation of Sections 116800-116820 of the California Health and Safety Code may result in a misdemeanor complaint being filed with the District Attorney.
Code of Conduct for Backflow Prevention Device Testers Certified in Orange County
A tester must have a current tester certification from Orange County Environmental Health (County Health Department) to test backflow prevention devices in Orange County.
A tester must not knowingly falsify the results of backflow device field tests performed by him.
Signing backflow test reports for tests he did not perform.
Making unneeded repairs.
Not having proper backflow certification to perform tests in Orange County.
Not using proper test procedures as established by the Orange County Division of Environmental Health.
Using unauthorized backflow test equipment.
A tester must not remove, replace or relocate a backflow device without the approval of the water purveyor or the County Health Department.
All backflow device test reports must be submitted to the water purveyor and the County Health Department within 10 days of the initial test, no matter what the result. If there is a specific problem relating to the test or the test report form, the tester must call the water agency or the County Health Department.
All backflow reports must be submitted on proper forms. They must be legible and contain all appropriate information pertaining to the test.
A tester must attend a backflow prevention device tester update seminar at least once every two years. The seminar must review current test procedures and be approved by Orange County Environmental Health.
It is the tester's responsibility to inform Environmental Health of any changes in their address, phone numbers, etc. You can contact Hisham Elmishad by email or phone at (714) 433-6284 and Pauline Liu by email or phone at (714) 433-6286.
Any tester failing to comply with the provisions of this Code of Conduct is subject to disciplinary action. The results of the action can be the loss of testing privileges in the county or in a water purveyor's jurisdiction. Also, it is a misdemeanor violation to knowingly file a false test report.
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