For a list of Orange County licensed Backflow Testers, click here
For a blank Backflow Device testing form, click here
What is Backflow and a Backflow Prevention Device?
Water distribution systems are designed to deliver water from the distribution pipeline to the consumer. However, in certain cases, water may try to flow in the opposite direction, which is known as backflow. This is an unacceptable condition which can result in stagnant or chemically- processed water drawn from a home or business' water supply back into the water main and delivered to a different user.
In order to avoid backflow, a Backflow Prevention Device is required for ALL homes, businesses or new construction additions that have fire-sprinkler systems. A Backflow Prevention Device may also be required for a pool/spa, or for an irrigation system that sits on a slope. Backflow prevention devices are required by law in required locations and must be installed in accordance with plumbing or building codes.
What do I have to do to maintain a Backflow Prevention Device?
A Backflow Prevention Device must be tested each year on a designated schedule AND whenever a Device is moved or repaired. On the yearly schedule, YLWD will send a notice of required yearly testing to the water bill account holder, who is responsible to pay for and to ensure the test is completed. A licensed Backflow Tester will test the Device and send the required report to YLWD. A copy of the report will also be given to the customer by the licensed Tester at the completion of the test for customer's records. Licensed Testers typically charge $25-$75 for the yearly test. If repairs or replacement parts are required, testers may charge $350 or more. YLWD does not charge any fees related specifically to the testing of Backflow Devices.
How do I get notified that my Backflow Prevention Device requires testing?
During the month prior to the testing date, YLWD will send a letter to the water bill account holder, reminding them of the date for the yearly testing. If YLWD does not receive the confirmation that testing was completed from the licensed tester, YLWD will send out a second notice. If there is no response, a third notice will follow. The third notice contains a deadline, which if missed, will require YLWD to disconnect water service that day to the address in question. This loss of water service will remain in effect until the Backflow Device is tested and all applicable paperwork of its passing the test is submitted to YLWD. In order to restore service, a reconnection charge, as part of normal customer-service related fees, will also be charged.
I didn't order/didn't know I had a Backflow Prevention Device. Why do I have to maintain it?
In some cases, a developer or contractor will install a Backflow Prevention Device without notifying the homeowner. This may be done because the specific design of the house or new construction addition requires installation to adhere to plumbing or building codes. However, proper maintenance of the Device is a water-quality issue and ensures that no cross-contamination of stagnant water from fire-sprinkler systems (which can sometimes sit in pipes for years) or chlorinated pool water occurs with the home's supply of fresh drinking water. Yearly testing is the responsibility of the individual on the water bill account.
The developer/landlord told me he would maintain it. Why am I involved?
The County of Orange, Department of Public Health, requires that local water agencies enforce the yearly testing of Backflow Prevention Devices, for the purposes of maintaining water quality throughout the system. In rare cases, backflow from a pool or fire-sprinkler system can cross-contaminate not only the water supply for the individual home, but for the neighborhood or entire distribution system. Unfortunately, the only method of enforcement available to local water agencies is the disconnection of water service and the fines and fees associated with the reconnection of service, both of which are the responsibility of the individual on the water bill account. In some cases, the developer or landlord may agree to pay for the yearly inspection costs; however the notices of inspection and ultimate responsibility for making sure that the inspection is completed will go to the water bill account holder.
My Backflow Prevention Device was tested less than a year ago. Why do I have to retest?
In order to comply with regulations from the County of Orange, Department of Public Health, Backflow Prevention Devices are required to be tested when installed, if repaired or moved, and on a designated yearly schedule. If a Device's yearly testing date is in January, but the device is not tested until March, the date for testing the next year REMAINS in January, not March. Additionally, if the Device is tested in January, but is relocated in September, the Device will need to be re-tested for it's new location AND re-tested on it's scheduled testing date in January.
My neighbors don't have a Backflow Prevention Device. Why is my house "special"?
If the Backflow Prevention Device was installed originally by the housing developer, there is a good chance that your neighbors also have Backflow Devices installed. Often, the conditions that require a Backflow Device for your property will also exist on similar properties in the same tract of homes, such as fire-sprinklers installed inside the house. New construction additions to existing homes may require Backflow Devices that surrounding homes do not.
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding Backflow Prevention or the required testing program, please contact Water Quality staff at (714) 701-3116 at the Yorba Linda Water District.