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Backflow Prevention

In cooperation with Kitchener Utilities, the City of Kitchener's building division works with the community to help ensure the quality of our drinking water by reducing the amount of backflow that occurs in the water distribution system.

Backflow happens when water flows in the opposite direction. For instance, instead of running from the city's water system into a business or home, the water runs the reverse way. That means whenever a foreign substance, such as a bottle of weed killer is connected to the end of a garden hose, the potential for pollution is created.

The problem is of particular concern for commercial, industrial, institutional and large multi-residential buildings.

The installation of a mechanical device known as a backflow preventer (BFP) can stop this problem before it occurs. These devices ensure unwanted substances do not enter the city's clean water supply.

We are determined to reduce backflow by ensuring more backflow preventers are being used across the city -- the primary reason why we've introduced a backflow prevention bylaw that affects commercial, industrial, institutional and large multi-residential buildings.

Many different BFP devices are available to protect the various types of cross connections.

We have provided the following documents to help all water customers upgrade their water systems:

Lawn irrigation and sprinkler systems

Backflow prevention devices are required to be installed on lawn irrigation systems. An irrigation head can become contaminated with animal waste (urine/feces), fertilizers and/or pesticides. During rain events, the heads can become submerged as well. If the system is not protected, these things can come back up the irrigation system into the drinking water. This can occur when the municipal water supply is turned off for maintenance and/or emergency repairs.

Annual testing is required to ensure the devices are working properly when an event occurs.

Backflow codes and standards

Ontario Building Code

7.6.2.2 Back Siphonage

"...where a potable water supply is connected to a boiler, tank, cooling jacket, lawn sprinkler system or other device where a non-potable fluid may be under pressure that is above atmospheric or the water outlet may be submerged in the non-potable fluid, the water supply shall be protected against backflow by a backflow preventer.

CSA Standards B64.10-11/B64.10.1-11

Selection and installation for backflow preventers/maintenance and field testing for backflow preventers (as well as other requirements).

4.2 Frequency of Field Testing

The backflow preventers specified in Clause 4.1 shall be field tested in accordance with the applicable requirements for each device in Clauses 8.1, 8.2, and 8.3 at the following times:

  1. Upon installation;
  2. When cleaned, repaired, or overhauled;
  3. When relocated;
  4. ANNUALLY; and
  5. As required by the authority having jurisdiction.

Chapter 902 Backflow and Cross Connection Prevention Bylaw refers to CSA Standard for testing (including frequency), which means that the by-law requires annual testing for lawn sprinkler systems.

For more information on backflow preventers and requirements, please contact us or call 519-741-2600 ext. 4840.