Backflow Testing Regulations

According to state law, all backflow assemblies must be tested annually. Many homes in Central Oregon need underground sprinkler systems because of the high desert. Regulating water throughout a desert landscape helps prevent leaks and other damage. According to the Bend Bulletin, “Homes built since 2003 are required to have a backflow assembly near the water meter, to prevent tainted water from flowing backward into the city’s water system, but maintenance of those devices is the responsibility of the city or water district supplying the home.”

Backflow is a reversal of non-potable water through a cross connection into potable water system. In other words, a reversal of bad water into fresh water. A good example of backflow contamination would be backflow into your sink or toilet. Most homes use gravity to move sewage from to the home to the municipal system. If an older sewage line systems uses galvanized steel instead of treated PVC, it can cause sewage to back right into your home.

Because a backflow can cause serious damage to the home and the health of a person, the State of Oregon mandates that all homes be tested once a year to prevent this from happening. The cost involved in backflow hazards can be extreme. Wastewater can flood a home within minutes and leave the home uninhabitable. The most common backflow is when a public sewer system becomes surcharged by heavy rain or a large snow melt, which happens quite often in Central Oregon.

To help make up for the costs, FEMA has a program that may help, “Through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers grants to cities and towns for up to 75 percent of the total cost to install backflow valve systems in residences and businesses. This is an important consideration, as cities or townships are generally not responsible for sewer-related damages since most stoppages are beyond the city’s control, and thereby the costs fall to the property owner.”

Since most backflow problems are from municipal systems, it’s rare that the homeowner may be responsible for the damages and that is why there are city, county, state and federal help for the cleanup and that is the reason it is mandatory to get your home tested once a year.