Cross connections can cause the water system to become contaminated.  A cross connection is a link with the public water supply and a possible source of contamination.  An example of a cross connection would be a garden hose submerged in a source of contamination such as a swimming pool, car radiator or other liquid.  If a water main break should occur or if a fire pumper used a fire hydrant while the hose was submerged in a source of contamination, the contaminant could be pulled back into the public water supply.  This occurrence, known as backflow, can be prevented.

One simple way to stop backflow is by using an air gap.  An air gap can be created by arranging your hose

so that the end is at least six inches above the top rim of the container it is being used to fill.  This air gap

will prevent the contaminant from being siphoned into the water supply.

                                                     Another method of preventing backflow with a garden hose is using a device known as a vacuum breaker.         

                                                     Vacuum breakers are inexpensive devices that can be screwed onto your outside faucet.  Those devices

                                                     will prevent contaminants from being siphoned back into your plumbing and the public water system.

More hazardous cross connections or cross connections created with permanently installed plumbing may require more sophisticated devices known

as reduced pressure backflow preventers.  These devices are much more complicated and must be tested annually by certified testers.

For more information on preventing cross connections and protecting our water supply, contact the Northeast Utility District at (931) 762-9481.


  • Disconnect and drain outdoor hoses.
  • Shut off the valve to your irrigation system and drain the lines.
  • Insulate pipes or faucets in unheated areas of the house.
  • Seal off outside access doors and cracks to keep the cold out.
  • Cover or close vented areas to your home's crawl space.
  • Locate your master shutoff so you know where it is if you do have a pipe break.


  • Keep water running in the pipes by allowing a small trickle of water to run.
  • ​If pipes run through cabinets or vanities, open doors to let warmer room temperatures get in.
  • Thaw pipes with warm air.
  • Shut off the water immediately
  • Be careful turning water back on and check pipes and joints for any cracks or leaks that might have thawed.

Homeowners often make risky assumptions about whether or not they should get their utility lines marked, but every digging job requires a call – even small projects like planting trees and shrubs. The depth of utility lines varies and there may be multiple utility lines in a common area. Digging without calling can disrupt service to an entire neighborhood, harm you and those around you and potentially result in fines and repair costs. Calling 811 before every digging job gets your underground utility lines marked for free and helps prevent undesired consequences.

Click to the link provided for additional information, and any questions you may have before you dig

         REMEMBER:  Never submerge your garden hose in anything you would not want to drink!