As a water provider, the City is responsible to ensure that there is no cross-connection or back siphoning of contaminated water into the main water supply. A properly installed backflow device prevents contaminated water from going backward in the water's supply line and maintains a one-way system.
It is an Ohio EPA mandate for the City to have a backflow program. The Ohio EPA continually evaluates the City’s backflow program, and each year requires more information and higher compliance standards
The backflow device fee is in accordance with updated City Code 1105.09-items N and P, effective July 1, 2011. The $25.00 annual fee per backflow device offsets some of the City’s cost to maintain both electronic and hard copy files of the over 33,000 backflow devices currently on the municipal water system. It also offsets some of the cost involved with notifying customers annually when their device test is due, maintaining the results of the test, submitting the test results to the Ohio EPA, and working with those customers that are not in compliance.
Because this fee only applies to backflow devices, it has been restricted to only those customers that have the devices. The most common residential applications that require backflow protection is for irrigation systems and wells. There are many commercial applications that require backflow prevention including: direct plumbed pools, auxiliary metering systems, irrigation systems, car washes, any property that has a second source of water available such as a well, pond or other auxiliary water storage. Customers that do not have the type of system or equipment that requires a backflow device will not be subject to the backflow device fee.
The backflow device must be inspected annually and tested by a company that is approved by the City of Columbus. The City’s Backflow Department maintains the database of approved testers and ensures they are qualified to inspect and test the devices in compliance with the Ohio EPA. The approved testers may charge fees for their time, inspection, and services, which are not related to the City’s fee.
To have a backflow device removed from a property, the system or equipment that requires a backflow device must also be removed from the property. For example, a lawn watering or irrigation system will need to be cut-off from the water supply and capped. It will then need to be inspected and approved by the City of Columbus. Any sewer auxiliary meters involved with the system will also be taken out of service. Removal of the auxiliary meter will subject the property to be billed for all of the water that goes through the water meter and into the sewer system. Some properties have systems that are required by the EPA to have a backflow device and will not be able to have it removed. For example, car washes, chemical labs, and facilities with medical waste will not be able to remove a backflow device.
Please contact the Customer Service Center if you have any questions at 614-645-8276, Monday- Friday from 7:00 am-6:00 pm. Call 645-6674 for more specific questions on backflow and the device.
A list of certified testers (updated July 16, 2012),
and forms needed by contractors to become certified and to submit reports are available on our main Backflow & Well Conversion