In Southern Alberta, we recommend activating your underground sprinkler system in the first week of May – but you’ll need to book a cross connection test first.
Not long ago, we published an article explaining what that is and why it’s necessary to book a cross connection test for your sprinkler system every year. To summarize, these tests are mandatory in Calgary for all cross connection devices in place to protect municipal water from backflow and contamination from external systems.
Other municipalities in Alberta may be behind the curve on cross connection regulation. Still, we hope you’ll contact a professional to protect your local potable water supply.
In-ground sprinklers are a prime example. Fertilizer, pesticides, and regular old dirt are liable to flow back down through the nozzles. This goes unnoticed, since it won’t cause any performance issues for your sprinkler system. However, what’s safe for your lawn isn’t always safe to drink.
This may be a rehash, but to be as useful as possible for both new homeowners and new sprinkler-owners, we thought we’d explain some more about the City of Calgary’s regulations surrounding cross connection testing.
How much does a cross connection test cost?
Here at Naiad, as of March 2022, we charge a flat rate of $152.38 for a single service, or a discounted rate of $119.25/yr for recurring annual service. (We also offer an equivalent $9.94/month payment option.)
If you book with someone else, be sure to get a fair rate. In Calgary, we would expect to pay under $200 for a cross connection test.
When should I book my cross connection test?
For lawn sprinklers, the City of Calgary specifies “a test must be performed at the time the system is turned on at the beginning of each irrigation season” (Water Utility Bylaw section 39.3e). In practice, we usually book a bit ahead of time, from mid-March to the end of April.
You’ll want to get on it quick – here at Naiad, we’ve already finished booking for March and begun performing tests. Once watering season begins, you don’t want your lawn to be missing out while you wait for a cross connection test. Spring is springing on us right now, and the window is closing fast.
Who can do this test?
A certified professional recognized by the City of Calgary must perform your cross connection test. (Note: this isn’t a direct link to that list. The City links an up-to-date list on the righthand side of that page.)
Broadly speaking, our local government doesn’t necessarily endorse every cross connection tester they recognize. They simply maintain a registry of local companies and technicians who meet the criteria to do this work (a Backflow Tester’s Certificate from the American Water Works Association). Still, any such professionals should be able to perform the test and submit the necessary paperwork.
You’ll want to be doubly sure that your cross connection test is done and documented properly. Luckily, you’ll find us on that list! Not to brag, but we’d certainly hire us.
What happens if I don’t get a cross connection test?
If you don’t plan to use your sprinkler system this year, then it doesn’t need its cross connection tested. (Note: this may not be the case for other cross connections.) But if you do use your in-ground sprinklers without having the test done, the consequences for such non-civic-minded naughtiness can be steep. The City makes reference to “fines, water service interruptions and property or business owners being held liable for damages” on their Cross Connection Control Program webpage.
Cross connection tests will generally run you just $100-200. It’s best to pick up the phone, rather than gamble with your water and your wallet.