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Backflow Testing Program

Backflow Prevention Assembly
backflow.jpgBackflow Testing Program

Federal and state laws require all water providers to meet certain standards to obtain, treat, and deliver water to protect public health.  Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) requires all water providers establish a Cross-Connection Control and Backflow Prevention Program.  Generally, this includes establishing requirements for the installation of backflow assemblies or devices preventing the flows or back-siphonage from unwanted connections that may threaten public health.  TCEQ requires all backflow devices or assemblies:

  • Must be tested upon installation and at least once annually.  Additional testing may be required depending on the health hazard.
  • Must receive a periodic Customer Service Inspection.  The inspections are intended to identify and validate all device locations, their appropriateness, and determine if additional devices are required.

The City will begin mailing informational letters to businesses and residences that are potential high hazard connections to the public water system in January 2016. Recipients who receive this notification have active water connections that may potentially contaminate the City’s water distribution system through improper cross-connections within structure plumbing and/or improperly functioning backflow prevention devices.

Types of high hazard locations include, but are not limited to:

  • Multi-tenant centersbackflow-prevention.jpg
  • Medical and Dental facilities
  • Restaurants
  • Funeral homes
  • Veterinary facilities
  • Commercial kitchens
  • Laboratories
  • Schools
  • Apartments
  • Dry Cleaners
  • Well water locations
  • Septic system locations
  • Water connections from outside water sources (e.g., amenity lakes, canals, and reclaimed water)

Additionally, effective April 1, 2016, the City’s third party service provider, BSI Inc., will begin mailing official notifications requiring annual certification of applicable backflow assemblies for these locations.  Archived backflow certifications have been sent to BSI for their database. if a certification has been completed and submitted to the City within the past twelve months, BSI will schedule the location’s next annual testing accordingly.

Implementation of this program is mandated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Compliance verification will be scheduled by the Building Official to review location’s backflow requirements.

Contact the City’s Utility Billing Manager, Nancy Massey, at (281) 554-1336 or with questions and/or concerns. 

Additional information on the Backflow Testing Programs follows.


Program Guidelines
The City of League City has established a Backflow Testing Program to help assure the backflow prevention devices protecting the City water system from potential health hazards are tested annually.  The program requires property owners maintain responsibility for ensuring their backflow prevention device is in good working order and providing annual test reports as proof of compliance.

Customers

If you are a water customer that had your backflow prevention assembly device tested but you've received an overdue notice, please visit www.bsionlinetracking.com/customer and use your CCN to verify whether your test results have been submitted. If you are still showing as non-compliant, you'll want to contact your testing company to have them submit your test results. Test results can only be submitted online at www.bsionlinetracking.com by certified backflow prevention assembly testers.
 
General information regarding backflow prevention is available at the links referenced below.

League City residents are responsible for meeting the annual test requirement for backflow prevention devices.    

Backflow testing is the owner’s responsibility and is paid for by the owner.  Additionally, owners are required to pay a one-time registration fee of $35 for each backflow device. 

 All repairs, replacements, or overhaul assemblies must also be performed by licensed backflow prevention assembly tester and permitted by the City.

Click here (backflow tester list) for an up-to-date list of companies and testers.

Records
The City of League City uses a third party, Backflow Solutions Inc., to maintain electronic records of backflow testing information.  Backflow test reports and tester licensing and gauge information are entered by testers or testing company representatives online via the internet in the BSI database.  BSI sends testing due and over-due notices to customers with the last tester of record listed on the letter as a convenience.  Testing is due on the same date every month and not a year from the last test date.

 Contact BSI by phone at (800) 414-4990, by mail at P.O. Box 246, Worth, IL, 60482 or email at .

Enforcement
Failure of an owner to have the annual backflow testing performed and reported to the City through BSI Online will result in an escalated enforcement measure that may include termination of water service and assessment of $40 processing fee per City ordinance.  Property owners may delegate testing activities to tenants, site managers, or property managers; however, the property owner is responsible and will be held accountable for compliance in enforcement proceedings.  Correspondence and enforcement notifications will be addressed to the party receiving the water bill for the address with the non-compliance.

Owners should remind their testing company to adhere to the following procedures when submitting backflow assembly test reports.

Testers and Testing Companies
Certified backflow prevention assembly tester registration fee: Annual registration fee of $75 for TCEQ approved testers shall be a nonrefundable fee to show proof of their current TCEQ license and testing equipment in accordance with current TCEQ regulations.  To register, click here.

All backflow assembly test reports for existing and replacement backflow devices must be submitted via the BSI Online Backflow Tracking System at

https://www.bsionlinetracking.com/

All testing companies are required to submit test reports within (48) hours of test date.  Failure to do so will result in enforcement notification of the customer regarding the non-compliant status of their device.  If not entered online, the ultimate escalation of enforcement is termination of customer’s water service.

Testers and testing companies are reminded to obtain the Customer Confirmation Number from your customer located at the top of the reminder or overdue letter received.  This number is needed by the backflow tester in order to access records in the BSI Online System.  Contact BSI if the number is lost or unknown.

 

Frequently Asked Questions 
  1. Why does City of League City need a Cross-Connection and Backflow Testing Program?
  2. What is backflow?
  3. What is a backflow prevention assembly?
  4. What is the process for installing/replacing a backflow prevention assembly?
  5. Why do backflow prevention assemblies need to be tested?
  6. How often does the backflow prevention assembly need to be tested?
  7. How can I contact a licensed backflow assembly tester?
  8. When requesting a test for my backflow prevention assembly, how much should I expect to pay for this service?
  9. What type of document needs to be returned to City of League City as proof that testing of the backflow prevention assembly was completed?
  10.  How can I verify that testing of my backflow prevention assembly has/has not been completed?
  11.  Does a lawn irrigation system require a backflow prevention assembly?
  12. Why do residential locations with on-site sewage facility (septic system) and an irrigation system require to have a back flow device and be tested annually?
  13. How long does a backflow prevention assembly last?
  14.  What is considered a potential hazard?
  15. Has City of League City process for permitting or overseeing the inspection of new, relocated, or repaired backflow prevention assemblies in the public right-of-way changed?
  16. Will an annual inspection continue to be required for backflow prevention assemblies located in the public right-of-way?
  17. What is backpressure backflow?
  18. What is back-siphonage?
  19. What is a cross-connection?

1.    Why does City of League City need a Cross-Connection and Backflow Testing Program?

The program safeguards the public drinking water and protects the health of its customers by ensuring that any contaminants that could backflow into the public water supply system are isolated within the customer’s internal distribution system. 
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2.    What is backflow?
  
Backflow refers to the reverse flow of non-potable water, or other substances, through a cross-connection and into the piping of a public water system or customer’s potable water system.  Two types of backflow are backpressure backflow and back-siphonage.
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3.     What is a backflow prevention assembly?

A backflow prevention assembly is a means or mechanism to prevent backflow.  The basic means for preventing backflow is an air gap, which either eliminates a cross-connection or provides barrier from backflow.  The basic mechanism for preventing backflow is a mechanical backflow preventer, which provides a physical barrier to backflow.  The principal types of backflow preventers are the reduced-pressure principle assembly, the pressure vacuum breaker assembly and the double check valve assembly.
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4.     What is the process for installing/replacing a backflow prevention assembly?

Proper permits must be acquired from the Building Department; to contact their office, 281-554-1429.   
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5.     Why do backflow prevention assemblies need to be tested?

Mechanical backflow prevention assemblies have internal seals, springs, and moving parts that are subject to fouling, wear or fatigue.  Also, mechanical backflow preventers and air gaps can be bypassed.  Therefore, all backflow prevention assemblies have to be tested periodically to ensure that they are functioning correctly.  Mechanical backflow prevention assemblies have to be tested with properly calibrated gauge equipment.    
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6. How often does the backflow prevention assembly need to be tested?

In order to insure the proper operation of a backflow prevention assembly, it must be tested and certified upon installation and at least once a year thereafter by a licensed backflow tester.
    
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7.     How can I contact a licensed backflow assembly tester?

A list of licensed testers can be found at www.leaguecity.com/backflowassembly.  Click Backflow Assembly Tester from the left side navigational related page.
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8.    When requesting a test for my backflow prevention assembly, how much should I expect to pay for this service?

It is our understanding that fees range from $50 each for multiple locations for the same customer up to $200 for a single location; so please call around when you are trying to schedule with a tester.
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9.    What type of document needs to be returned to the City of League City as proof that testing of the backflow prevention assembly was completed?

The licensed tester will input the approved backflow testing report to BSI, Incorporated database.  BSI will notify the City upon input completion.  If the customer’s backflow testing report is not inputted into BSI database on or by the due date; then BSI will mail a past due notice to the customer.  If the backflow report is not inputted into BSI database two weeks after the due date, BSI will notify the City the customer’s backflow assembly is not in compliance.  At which, the City may disconnect the water service until the customer’s backflow device comes into compliance. 
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10.  How can I verify that testing of my backflow prevention assembly has/has not been completed?

Contact City’s Utility Billing Department at (281) 554-1336, Nancy Massey.
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11.  Does a lawn irrigation system require a backflow prevention assembly?

Yes.  Section 608.16.5, of the International Plumbing Code and Section P2902.5.3 of the International Residential Code (connections to lawn irrigation systems), states that the potable water supply to lawn irrigation systems shall be protected against backflow by a pressure-type vacuum breaker, a double-check valve assembly or a reduced pressure principle backflow preventer – depending on the degree of the site hazard.
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12. Why do residential locations with on-site sewage facility (septic system) and an irrigation system require to have a back flow device and be tested annually?

The existence of a health hazard, such as an OSSF, requires the use of a Reduced Pressure Principle Backflow Prevention Assembly (RPZ) on the irrigation system per:

 

344.51(d) If an irrigation system is designed or installed on a property that is served by an on-site sewage facility, as defined in Chapter 285 of this title (relating to On-Site Sewage Facilities), then:

  (1) all irrigation piping and valves must meet the separation distances from the On-Site Sewage Facilities system as required for a private water line in §285.91(10) of this title (relating to Minimum Required Separation Distances for On-Site Sewage Facilities);

  (2) any connections using a private or public potable water source must be connected to the water source through a reduced pressure principle backflow prevention assembly as defined in §344.50 of this title (relating to Backflow Prevention Methods); and

  (3) any water from the irrigation system that is applied to the surface of the area utilized by the On-Site Sewage Facility system must be controlled on a separate irrigation zone or zones so as to allow complete control of any irrigation to that area so that there will not be excess water that would prevent the On-Site Sewage Facilities system from operating effectively.

 

Because an RPZ is a mechanical assembly and is subject to fail, it must be tested to make sure it is working properly.  The existence of a health hazard necessitates annual testing of the RPZ per:

 

290.44(h)(4) All backflow prevention assemblies that are required according to this section and associated table located in §290.47(f) of this title shall be tested upon installation by a licensed backflow prevention assembly tester and certified to be operating within specifications. Backflow prevention assemblies which are installed to provide protection against health hazards must also be tested and certified to be operating within specifications at least annually by a licensed backflow prevention assembly tester.

For questions specific to landscape irrigation systems, please contact Ms. Mellissa Keller with the TCEQ Landscape Irrigation Program at:  or at (512) 239-1768.

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13. How long does a backflow prevention assembly last?

With proper maintenance and annual testing, backflow prevention assemblies have been known to last for many years.
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14.  What is considered a potential hazard?

A potential hazard is defined as any possibility of pollutants, contaminants, and system or plumbing hazards.  For example, fire protection system, irrigation systems, gasoline refineries and stations, restaurants, hospitals and manufacturers.
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15.  Has City of League City process for permitting or overseeing the inspection of new, relocated or repaired backflow prevention assemblies in the public right-of-way changed?

No. League City will continue to review all permits and utility drawings to ensure compliance with backflow prevention requirements, and will continue to oversee the installation and testing of the assemblies.
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16.  Will an annual inspection continue to be required for backflow prevention assemblies located in the public right-of-way?

Yes.  League City will continue to mail out a test due notices and when necessary, test past due notices to all customers with a backflow prevention assemblies.  Testing requirements must be completed within 30 days of the test due notice.
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17.  What is backpressure backflow?

Backpressure backflow occurs when the downstream side of the piping system is greater than the supply pressure in a public system or customer’s potable water system.  Backpressure can result from an increase in downstream pressure, a reduction in the potable water supply pressure or a combination of both.  Pumps can create increases in downstream pressure; temperature increases in boilers, etc.  Reductions in potable water supply pressure occur whenever the amount of after being used exceeds the amount of water being supplied, such as during waterline flushing, fire fighting or breaks in the water mains.
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18.  What is back-siphonage?

Back-siphonage is backflow caused by negative pressure (i.e. vacuum or partial vacuum) in a public water system or customer’s potable water system.  The effect is similar to drinking water through a straw.  Back-siphonage can occur when there is a stoppage of water supply due to nearby fire fighting, a break in a water main, etc.
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19.  What is a cross-connection?

A cross-connection is any temporary or permanent connection between a public water system or the customer’s potable water system and any source or system containing non-potable water or other substances.

Common cross-connections:

  • Private Wells – where the private well connection is connected to a service line receiving water from a public water supply.  The untreated water could be pumped into the potable water supply which serves the home and the public water system.
  • Lawn sprinkler systems – where the stagnant/contaminated water from the sprinkler system could be drawn into the drinkable water supply for your home.

Support

Contact the City’s backflow team with questions or concerns at


Reference

https://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.ViewTAC?tac_view=4&ti=30&pt=1&ch=290

  • City of League City – Ordinance Section 22-280 - Cross-connection control program

http://bit.ly/1PnSCF8

  • Texas Commission on Environmental Quality:  Consumer’s Guide (pdf)

http://bit.ly/1UJsc4x