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Sanitary Survey Preparations

A Drop of Knowledge E-Newsletter

Sanitary Survey Preparations


Keeping records organized is a key to sanitary survey success


by Robert Stewart, Executive Director (RCAP)


Long ago, Benjamin Franklin reportedly said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” If you are a water utility operator or manager you should add “and sanitary surveys.” Like it or not, regular sanitary surveys are a part of life for water utility operators. Depending on the type of water system you operate, ground or surface, and the state where you are located, these come again and again, typically every one to five years. Knowing they are coming means that you can prepare your system to decrease or eliminate potential violations. While the list of items likely to be inspected is long, let’s start with a couple of the basics that are common for virtually every system.



These (although not an exhaustive list) should be easily accessible when the inspector arrives – you want to start off right by not making the inspector wait while you locate these items! In fact, oftentimes the regulatory agency will ask you ahead of time to have these items available:

  • Copies of all fully executed and recorded sanitary control easements for each well.
  • Copies of well material setting data, geological log, sealing information, disinfection information, microbiological sample results, and chemical analysis reports.
  • The plant’s up-to-date Operations & Maintenance Manual.
  • The system’s cross-connection control program and all backflow inspections and test results on file.
  • A current Emergency Response Plan.
  • Documentation that the system is operated by a licensed operator at a level appropriate for the type of water system.
  • Daily operating and maintenance activity records.
  • Documentation for notices of violation and correction actions as well as public notices issued.
  • Map of the distribution system, up to date and accurate.
  • Current chemical and microbiological monitoring plan.

Along with your records, plans, and maps, it is also advisable to conduct your own on-site inspection of your facilities prior to the inspector’s arrival. Below are some items to be checked regarding the distribution system. At the end of this article you will find a link for checking other components of your system. Please remember that some of these items may vary from state to state, but what is presented are the typical standards and requirements.



  • The water distribution system provides a minimum pressure of 35 psi at flow rates of 1.5 gpm at each outlet or connection at all times except during firefighting events.
  • Sufficient valves and blowoffs are available for repairs and flushing to avoid large areas of interrupted service.
  • All dead end mains have adequate flush valves and properly installed discharge piping.
  • Sanitary precautions including flushing, disinfection, and bacteriological sampling are followed according to AWWA standards when disinfecting repaired water mains and when laying new water lines.
  • For all of your service connections, any potential contamination or system hazards which have an actual or potential cross-connection have an air gap separation or backflow prevention assembly installed.
  • All backflow prevention devices are inspected upon installation and are tested and certified annually by a recognized backflow prevention assembly tester.
  • Any overhead bulk water stations provide for an air gap between the filing outlet hose and the receiving tank.
  • All electrical wiring is in a securely mounted conduit in compliance with local or national electrical code.
  • Minimum chlorine residual requirements are being met in all sections of the distribution system.
For more information on what to look for prior to your inspector’s arrival go to: