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What is backflow prevention?

Every time we turn on the faucet we expect that the water that flows will be clean and pure.  Public water suppliers have long been concerned with the safety of our local drinking water. This safety is jeopardized when there are cross connections, and a backflow condition may contaminate the public water supply. When the public water supply becomes contaminated people can become sick and possibly die. Backflow prevention is one way to protect the safety of our drinking water. Backflow prevention is the use and installation of devices to prevent cross connections, backflow and backsiphonage from wreaking havoc on the general public. Backflow occurs when water flows in reverse from its intended source back into the water distribution system. Problems arise when potable water becomes contaminated and re-enters the distribution system.

What is a backflow prevention device?

Backflow prevention devices prevent contaminated water or chemicals from flowing back into the public drinking water supply system. Certain types of businesses are legally mandated to install and operate approved backflow preventers. For a comprehensive list of approved devices, please see below.

Why are backflow prevention devices required?

Backflow prevention devices are an important component of the Water Suppliers drinking water protection program and are legally mandated under the EPA, New York State Sanitary Code and the Rules of the Water Authority having jurisdiction for those businesses and properties identified as posing a risk to the public water supply.

Why is it necessary to inspect my backflow devices?

The most important reason is for the safety of all who consume water from your home or business. Backflow devices are mechanical in nature and will fail over time. A malfunctioning device could allow backflow and contaminate your drinking water. Secondarily, it is the law. Under the New York State Sanitary Code, any customer who has a backflow device on their property is required to have an annual inspection by a New York State certified tester. Failure to comply could result in a disconnection of water service.

What types of properties are typically required to install a backflow prevention device?

The following types of businesses are required to use backflow preventers:

  • Metal plating, cleaning, processing or fabricating facilities
  • Photo-processing facilities
  • Laundries and dry cleaners
  • Commercial car washes
  • Greenhouses
  • Hospitals, Clinics and Laboratories (including veterinary hospitals)
  • Medical and Dental Offices
  • Funeral Parlors
  • Food processing plants and meat / fish packers
  • Dye Plants
  • Paper processors
  • Auto Repair Shops
  • Breweries

  • Tanneries
  • Exterminators
  • Large residential dwellings with water boilers that use rust-inhibitors or other water treatment chemicals, (“treated water boilers”)
  • Sewage treatment plants or handling facilities
  • Premises with multiple water service lines
  • Premises with roof tanks and elevated storage lines
  • Canneries
  • Slaughterhouse / Live Poultry Processing Facilities
  • Ice Manufacturing Facilities
  • Printing Facilities
  • Supermarkets

How can I be sure if my property requires a backflow prevention device?

To determine whether or not your property requires a backflow prevention device, you must retain the services of a Licensed Professional Engineer (PE), Licensed Registered Architect (RA), or Licensed Master Plumber (LMP) or request a property inspection from your local water supplier.

Who is responsible for installing a backflow prevention device?

Property owners are required to install, maintain and test backflow prevention devices according to all relevant City and State codes. Tenants are not responsible for backflow prevention devices.

Receive a notice from your local water supplier? Don’t panic, we can help.