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Backflow Prevention Outreach Program - FAQ



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 New York City Department of Environmental Protection’s drinking water protection program and are legally mandated under the New York State Sanitary Code and the Rules of the City of New York for those businesses identified as posing a risk to the public water supply.


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

Unless they receive a specific exemption from DEP, 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
  • Premises with large boilers or chemically treated boilers
  • Warehouses (with toxic chemical storage)
  • Premises with Commercial or Public Kitchens
  • Premises with water cooled equipment or chillers
  • Premises with Groundwater Wells
  • Premises that Reuse or Recycle Water
  • Shipyards and Marinas
  • Schools and Colleges
  • Food Preparation Facilities
  • Nursing Homes
  • Barber Shops & Beauty Salons
  • Properties with in-ground irrigation sprinklers

Property owners may also have their Registered Architect or Professional Engineer consult DEP’s Cross-Connection Control Risk Assessment Guide to determine whether or not your property requires a backflow prevention device.

If your property or business type is not included in the above list and you have a specific question about your legal requirements, please call 311 to have your inquiry directed to an appropriate DEP representative.



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), Licensed Master Plumber (LMP) or request a property inspection from DEP.


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


I am a tenant. Am I responsible for the installation of a backflow prevention device?
No. Property owners, not tenants, are responsible for the installation of backflow prevention devices.


How do I install a backflow prevention device?
Installation will require the services of a Professional Engineer (PE) or Registered Architect (RA). Installation and inspection procedures are available here, or in DEP’s Cross-Connection Brochure, which is available via mail, along with all supporting forms and documentation, from the City’s non-emergency helpline, 311.


How much will installation of an approved backflow prevention device cost?

DEP is unable to provide specific costs for each approved backflow device, but has developed the following price estimates based on average industry prices for parts and labor:

  • For very small buildings (1 story) installation should cost between $3,000 and $5,000.
  • For small buildings (2 story) installation should cost between $3,750 and $5,500.
  • For small to mid-size buildings (car washes, laundromats, small manufacturers) installation should cost between $5,000 and $7,000.
  • For mid-size buildings (office complexes, large manufacturers or department stores) installation should cost between $7,500 and $13,000.
  • For large buildings (High rises, hospitals) installation should cost between $14,000 and $34,000.



Will I need to install more than one backflow prevention device?
Every water line to the property must have a backflow prevention device. If your property is required to have a backflow prevention device and has multiple water service lines, you must install a device on each line.


Recently, I received an order to install a backflow prevention device from DEP. The 30-day installation period has nearly expired. How can I avoid a Notice of Violation?
As long as DEP has certification from a Licensed Master Plumber (LMP), Professional Engineer (PE) or Registered Architect (RA) that a device is in the process of being installed, you will not receive a Notice of Violation.


How do I schedule testing for my backflow prevention device?
You must schedule testing with a certified tester at least once a year and file appropriate forms with DEP. A full description of testing is provided [here], or in DEP’s Cross-Connection brochure, which is available via mail, along with all supporting forms and documentation, from the City’s non-emergency helpline, 311.


What if I have a backflow prevention device but DEP has no record of its installation?
You must ask your PE or RA to send a record drawing of the backflow preventer along with an initial test report of the device to DEP for review.


How do I file for an exemption from backflow prevention regulations?
Exemptions must be filed by a Professional Engineer (PE), Registered Architect (RA) or Licensed Master Plumber (LMP) on behalf of the property owner. The PE, RA or LMP will need to provide all required information in a typed letter on his/her letterhead and fully state that all necessary exemption conditions have been met. All letters must be sent to DEP for approval. Exemption requests should be filed according to DEP’s [exemption guide], which is also available via mail from 311. You can also have your property inspected for exemption approval by calling DEP at (718) 595-5437.


Where can I find a Professional Engineer (PE), Registered Architect (RA) or Licensed Master Plumber (LMP)?

The following organizations can refer you to a PE, RA or LMP:

Plumbing Foundation City of New York, Inc.
44 West 28th Street, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10001
(212) 481-9740
www.acpcny.org

Master Plumbers Council (MPC)
137-03 Crossbay Boulevard
Ozone Park, NY 11417
(718) 793-6300
www.nycmpc.org

NYC Chapter of the American Society of Sanitary Engineers
P.O. Box 20111
Greeley Square Sta., NY 10001

NYC Chapter of the American Society of Plumbing Engineers
P.O. Box 293
Grand Central Sta., NY 10163

American Institute of Architects (AIA)
AIA NY Chapter
Center for Architecture
536 LaGuardia Place
New York, NY 10012
(212) 683-0023
architectfinder.aia.org



Where can I find more information about backflow prevention devices and regulations?

If you have additional questions, please call 311 to have your inquiry forwarded to a DEP representative.




Backflow Prevention Outreach Program

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