Backflow Compliance

What is backflow, and why is it dangerous?
Water systems are designed to move water in one direction. However, a drop in pressure or a break in a water line can send water flowing in the opposite direction – and draw contaminants such as fertilizers and other chemicals into the drinking water system. This reversal of flow is called backflow, or back-siphoning.

Backflow is dangerous because non-drinkable water, chemicals, fertilizers, etc. In a municipality’s drinking water system can contaminate the water supply and may cause sickness or death.

What is a backflow prevention device?
A backflow prevention device, or assembly, is essentially a pair of check valves placed on a customer service line. The device is configured to shut when there is reverse flow in the water line, thereby keeping contaminants out of the water system.

Who is required to have a backflow prevention assembly?
All commercial water customers and some residential customers, such as people with irrigation systems and those with certain home-based businesses.

Where should the backflow prevention assembly be located?
On the customer’s property near the meter box, or immediately inside the building being serviced; but in all cases, before the first branch line leading off the service line.

When do I have to have the backflow prevention assembly installed?
If you are required to install a backflow prevention assembly, the sooner the better. The City of Atlanta expects all affected property owners to have backflow prevention assemblies installed and tested before your business opens. If your business existed prior to your first inspection, get the assemblies installed as soon as possible.

What is a cross connection?
Any actual or potential connection between the public water supply and a non-desirable source of contamination or pollution.

When did installation of the assemblies become a requirement?
The Federal Government passed the Safe Water Drinking Act in 1973, and Georgia adopted these federal standards in the same year. In 1977, Georgia passed the Rules for Safe Drinking Water which states”

“A supplier of water or any person having possession or control of a public water system has the responsibility to prevent water from unapproved sources or any contamination from entering the public water system.”

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division amended this rule in 1983 and mandated that all public water systems develop Cross-Connection and/or Backflow Prevention Programs.

Additional Links:

Regulations – Federal, State and Local Code of Ordinances
Frequently Asked Backflow Prevention Questions
Educational Information and References
List of Registered Backflow Assembly Testers (PDF)

Environmental Compliance Section

72 Marrietta Street
5th Floor
Atlanta, GA 30303

Ahmad Cade, Water Distribution Supervisor
Phone: 404.546.3239
Fax: 404.235.2054

Cedric Toney, Water Distribution Specialist
Main: 404.546.3332
Cell: 404.618.0960

Administrative Assistant
Phone: 404.546.3316

Willett S. Caulwell, Data Technician
Phone: 404.546.3316

Daisaree Davis
Phone: 404.546.1244

Jesse Jones, Distribution Specialist
Phone: 404.546.3254