Backflow Prevention By-Law

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Northumberland County is introducing a new Backflow Prevention By-Law to help protect drinking water in industrial, commercial, institutional and multi-residential buildings from cross-connection contamination within plumbing systems.

What is backflow?

Backflow is the undesirable reversed flow of fluids, chemicals, or any other foreign material into the public drinking water system. Backflow can cause our drinking water to become polluted or contaminated, which reduces the quality of the drinking water.

For more information about backflow, see our Frequently Asked Questions section below.

What is the Backflow Prevention By-Law?

The proposed Backflow Prevention By-Law will require industrial, commercial, institutional (ICIs) and multi-residential buildings in the Township of Alnwick/Haldimand, the Municipality of Brighton, Town of Cobourg, Township of Cramahe, Township of Hamilton and Municipality of Trent Hills to review connections within their plumbing systems to ensure proper backflow prevention devices are installed to protect drinking water from potential contamination.

The draft by-law will be presented for public review and feedback at two upcoming open house sessions on Tuesday, August 16th. Feedback received during this consultation will be used to inform the development of the final by-law, which will be presented to County Council for approval in the coming months.

Who should attend the open house?

  • Industrial, commercial, institutional (ICIs) and multi-residential building property owners in Northumberland (ICI property owners in Port Hope are excluded from the requirements under the Backflow Prevention By-Law, however they are invited to attend, if interested)
  • Plumbers, licensed testers, manufacturers, builders and other industry professionals
  • Residents interested in learning more about backflow prevention (residential homeowners are excluded from requirements under the Backflow Prevention By-Law, however they are invited to attend, if interested)

The public engagement objectives for this project:

  1. Increase the awareness of the importance of backflow prevention to ensure drinking water is protected from potential contamination.
  2. Inform the public, including affected ICIs and multi-residential building owners, about the proposed Backflow Prevention By-Law currently under development.
  3. Seek feedback on the draft by-law to inform the development of the final by-law later this year.
  4. Increase awareness of the types of backflow devices available for purchase and installation to prevent backflow.

Join In the conversation

  • Review our Frequently Asked Questions below to learn more about backflow prevention.
  • Attend one of our open house sessions on Tuesday, August 16th to learn more about the by-law, ask questions, provide feedback and browse vendor display booths to learn more about the backflow prevention devices available for purchase and installation.
  • If you are unable to attend in person, you can also email the project team to request a copy of the proposed by-law for review, and can submit your feedback by email.

Northumberland County is introducing a new Backflow Prevention By-Law to help protect drinking water in industrial, commercial, institutional and multi-residential buildings from cross-connection contamination within plumbing systems.

What is backflow?

Backflow is the undesirable reversed flow of fluids, chemicals, or any other foreign material into the public drinking water system. Backflow can cause our drinking water to become polluted or contaminated, which reduces the quality of the drinking water.

For more information about backflow, see our Frequently Asked Questions section below.

What is the Backflow Prevention By-Law?

The proposed Backflow Prevention By-Law will require industrial, commercial, institutional (ICIs) and multi-residential buildings in the Township of Alnwick/Haldimand, the Municipality of Brighton, Town of Cobourg, Township of Cramahe, Township of Hamilton and Municipality of Trent Hills to review connections within their plumbing systems to ensure proper backflow prevention devices are installed to protect drinking water from potential contamination.

The draft by-law will be presented for public review and feedback at two upcoming open house sessions on Tuesday, August 16th. Feedback received during this consultation will be used to inform the development of the final by-law, which will be presented to County Council for approval in the coming months.

Who should attend the open house?

  • Industrial, commercial, institutional (ICIs) and multi-residential building property owners in Northumberland (ICI property owners in Port Hope are excluded from the requirements under the Backflow Prevention By-Law, however they are invited to attend, if interested)
  • Plumbers, licensed testers, manufacturers, builders and other industry professionals
  • Residents interested in learning more about backflow prevention (residential homeowners are excluded from requirements under the Backflow Prevention By-Law, however they are invited to attend, if interested)

The public engagement objectives for this project:

  1. Increase the awareness of the importance of backflow prevention to ensure drinking water is protected from potential contamination.
  2. Inform the public, including affected ICIs and multi-residential building owners, about the proposed Backflow Prevention By-Law currently under development.
  3. Seek feedback on the draft by-law to inform the development of the final by-law later this year.
  4. Increase awareness of the types of backflow devices available for purchase and installation to prevent backflow.

Join In the conversation

  • Review our Frequently Asked Questions below to learn more about backflow prevention.
  • Attend one of our open house sessions on Tuesday, August 16th to learn more about the by-law, ask questions, provide feedback and browse vendor display booths to learn more about the backflow prevention devices available for purchase and installation.
  • If you are unable to attend in person, you can also email the project team to request a copy of the proposed by-law for review, and can submit your feedback by email.
  • Frequently Asked Questions

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    What is backflow?

    Backflow refers to the undesirable reverse flow of fluids, chemicals or any other foreign material through a cross-connection and into the public water system or customer's potable water system. The two types of backflow include backpressure (caused by pumps, piping systems elevation or thermal expansion from a heat source) and backsiphonage (caused by a loss of pressure in the drinking water system).

    What is a cross-connection?

    A cross-connection is any temporary or permanent connection between a public water system and any source or system containing non-potable water. Common cross-connections include:

    • Private wells – Where the private well 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.
    • Commercial and industrial equipment connected for cooling or processing water.

    What is back-siphonage?

    Backsiphonage is backflow caused by negative pressure (i.e. vacuum or partial vacuum) in a public water system or a customer's potable water system. The effect is similar to drinking water through a straw. Backsiphonage can occur when there is a stoppage of water supply due to nearby fire-fighting, a break in a water main, or other reasons.

    Why do water suppliers need to control cross-connections and protect their public water systems against backflow?

    Backflow into a public water system can pollute or contaminate the water in that system. Water pollution can reduce the quality of drinking water and water contamination can cause concern for public health if the water is consumed. Water suppliers must take precautions to protect its public water system from potential pollution or contamination.

    What is a backflow preventer?

    A backflow prevention device or assembly is a mechanism to prevent backflow. The basic means to prevent backflow is an air gap, which either eliminates a cross-connection or provides a barrier from backflow. A mechanical backflow preventer provides a physical barrier to prevent backflow.

    Is a permit required to install a backflow preventer?

    Yes. A plumbing permit is required for the installation of any backflow prevention device.

    Why do backflow prevention devices need to be tested?

    Mechanical backflow prevention devices 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 devices have to be tested periodically to ensure that they are functioning correctly. Mechanical backflow prevention devices have to be tested with properly calibrated gauge equipment.

    How often does the backflow prevention device need to be tested?

    Backflow prevention devices must be tested and certified upon installation and at least once every year. The testing and certification must be performed by a licensed backflow tester.

    Where can I find licenced backflow testers?

    Northumberland County can provide a list of local surveyors and testers, or you can visit the OWWA Ontario Water Works Association Tester List or the American Society of Sanitary Engineers (ASSE) Certified Professionals directory.

    Does a lawn irrigation system require a backflow prevention device?

    Yes. The potable water supply to lawn irrigation systems should be protected against backflow and potential hazards.

    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 systems, irrigation systems, gasoline refineries and stations, restaurants, hospitals and manufacturers.

    What can be done to protect our drinking water at home?

    • DO keep the ends of hoses clear of all possible contaminants.
    • DON'T submerge hoses in buckets, sinks, tubs, pools, ponds etc.
    • DON'T use spray attachments without a backflow prevention device.
    • DO install an approved backflow prevention device on all lawn irrigation systems, swimming pools, water softeners (and many others).
    • DON'T connect waste pipes from water softeners or other treatment systems to the sewer, submerged drain pipes, etc.
    • DO install hose connection vacuum breakers on all unprotected threaded faucets around your home—these devices are inexpensive and are available at hardware stores and home improvement centres.
    • DON'T use a hose to unplug blocked toilets, sewers, etc.
    • DO ensure, when having a backflow prevention device installed that your contractor is qualified.

    Who is responsible for the survey of my property, and the installation, testing and maintenance of the backflow prevention devices?

    It is up to the property owner to ensure that:

    • the property is surveyed;
    • backflow prevention devices and cross connections are identified;
    • backflow prevention devices are tested at the time of installation and on an annual basis thereafter; and,
    • backflow prevention devices are properly maintained and repaired. If any maintenance or repairs are performed on the device, it must be re-tested.

    Where can I get more information about cross-connection control?

    • CAN/CSA-B64.10-11 CAN/CSA-B64.10.1-11 Standard
    • Manual for the Selection and Installation of Backflow Prevention Devices
    • Manual for the Maintenance and Field Testing of Backflow Prevention Devices
    • Ontario Building Code – Part 7 Plumbing
    • EPA’s Cross Connection Control Manual
    • AWWA Canadian Cross Connection Control Manual
Page last updated: 25 Jul 2022, 11:38 AM