City considers change to inspection schedule of residential backflow preventers

Posted at 10:15 PM, Jun 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-11 23:15:00-04

The city has paid a lot of attention to backflow preventers, since our tap water ban in 2016.  Those devices are designed to keep chemicals and harmful bacteria out of our water supply. Now, the city is considering changing how often it inspects them at residential properties.
Officials said the 2016 water crisis was triggered because of a missing backflow preventer at a business, which was an asphalt plant. Mike Wanzer, the chair of the city’s Plumbing Mechanical Advisory Board, says the risk would be much lower, if the same thing happened at a home.  

"There’s also a lot higher hazards at your commercial locations — chemicals, equipment being operated. So, the chances of something happening are a lot higher and when something does happen, it’d be a lot more serious," Wanzer explains to KRIS 6 News.

So, that board is recommending that the city change the current ordinance, which requires inspection of residential backflow preventers when they’re first installed and every three years after that. The amendment would only require inspections during initial installation or after a repair.

That would make city policy the same as state standards and get rid of the three-year mandate that Wanzer calls unnecessary.

Wanzer says of the current ordinance, "It took a lot of well-meaning citizens and put them in non-compliance with a backflow law. You know, all of a sudden they were scofflaws and a lot of them don’t even know."

Wanzer says there’s another thing residents should like about the potential change. It will save them money. 

"Any time you can save somebody from an annual inspection fee of whatever it is and getting the government out of our business, basically that’s it."

This would not affect inspections of commercial backflow preventers. Those are still required every year.
The city council will hold their first vote on the amended ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting. If it passes, a second affirmative vote would be required before it takes effect. That vote is tentatively scheduled for the June 19 council meeting.