What is a backflow preventer?
A backflow prevention device is a valve or series of valves designed to prevent hazardous contaminants from moving in the opposite direction of flow.
In New York City, the NYC Department of Environmental protection governs the requirements for backflow prevention device installation. These devices are important tools in protecting the city’s drinking water.
Backflow can occur when the city’s water system experiences a sudden drop in pressure, usually due to a water main break, sudden peaks of high demand or fire department use of the water. During these events standing water within a building can be sucked back into the municipal water supply, along with any contaminants sitting in it. A backflow preventer would prevent the water from exiting the building.
When is a backflow preventer required?
The NYC DEP is the authority which dictates the requirements for installation of backflow prevention assemblies. The NYC DEP has the authority to fine any property owner for having an existing water service without an approved backflow prevention plan on file. Additionally, any new water service requires an approved backflow prevention plan or DEP exemption letter. DEP exemption letters only apply to a very small subset of buildings in NYC, so most buildings will require a backflow preventer at some point.
How is a backflow preventer filed and installed?
Backflow prevention plans can be filed by a Register Architect or Professional Engineer. The filing fee is $350 per device. Once approved, the owner must hire a plumber to install the assembly. Once installed, the engineer or architect will inspect the installation. If the installation is installed properly, the plumber and the engineer or architect of record will sign a GEN-215B form stating the installation is in accordance with the approved plans. The owner has a two year window from approval to installation. The DEP may enforce a faster schedule with fines in certain cases. After sign off, the owner must annually test the device and submit test reports to the DEP indicating the device is in proper working order.
Contact us today to discuss the backflow preventer requirements for your project.
Click here for additional information on the NYC DEP’s cross connection controls website.