Commercial Backflow Requirements

 
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The City of Jacksonville and JEA both require that all commercial water services require a backflow preventer device unless specifically exempted. Backflow preventers are required to be installed on the customer’s property within 10 feet of the JEA meter and in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions for the specific application. Any variance from installation requirements must receive prior approval from JEA. The State of Florida also requires that most commercial premises install and maintain a reduced backflow preventer unless the business requests and receives an exemption from JEA. 

The City of Jacksonville Building Inspection Division requires the installation of backflow preventers on all commercial fire sprinkler service lines, irrigation lines and potable (domestic) water lines.

JEA’s Cross Connection Control Policy requires the installation, maintenance and annual testing of backflow preventers on all commercial fire sprinkler service lines, irrigation lines and potable (domestic) water lines.
Download our Cross Connection Control Policy (PDF)

JEA Qualified Backflow Prevention Vendors

JEA’s qualified vendor program is offered to customers for their convenience in choosing a vendor who meets our requirements to test, repair, replace and install backflow preventers.
Find a JEA Qualified Backflow Prevention Vendor

Approved Backflow Preventers for Commercial Customers

Backflow preventers must be installed on the customer’s property above grade and be tested upon installation and annually thereafter.

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Closed Title:Reduced Pressure Backflow Preventers
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In most cases, commercial customers must have a reduced pressure backflow preventer assembly installed. In the case of fire sprinkler lines where pressure is a factor, a double-check assembly may be installed – unless there is a retention pond or well on site that holds water for more than 24 hours or the property’s structures are three or more stories and use a booster pump. In those cases, the customer must install a reduced pressure backflow preventer.

A reduced pressure backflow preventer is required when there is a retention pond on site that holds water for more than 24 hours, or when the service is for a building of three or more stories that uses a booster pump.

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Closed Title:Double-Check Backflow Preventers
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A commercial customer with a double-check backflow preventer installed on potable drinking water lines is not in compliance. Double-check assemblies installed on high-risk commercial, multi-family and public school water services must be replaced with reduced pressure backflow preventers to be in compliance with state regulations. 

Examples of high-risk applications include, but are not limited to, medical and dental facilities, lift stations, food service and processing, mortuaries, residential care facilities, manufacturing and industrial facilities and properties with an auxiliary source of water. 

Double-check preventers on irrigation lines can remain in service until they cannot be repaired unless JEA determines that there is a present risk to the drinking supply and that a reduced pressure preventer is required.

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Closed Title:Containment Devices
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A containment program is designed to protect the public water supply. JEA is responsible for tracking the installation and annual testing of containment backflow preventers.

JEA requires containment devices to be installed on all dedicated irrigation or fire sprinkler lines and on most potable (drinking) water supply pipes. Containment backflow preventers are located near the customer’s connection to the JEA water supply, typically within 10 feet of the JEA water meter. All containment devices must be certified as functional, with the test results submitted to JEA annually. 

For premises with both isolation and containment devices, JEA requires only the containment backflow preventer (near the water meter) to be certified annually. Test reports for isolation devices do not need to be submitted to JEA.

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Closed Title:Isolation Devices
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An internal, or isolation, program protects the occupants of a building from contamination or pollution from internal processes. 

Isolation backflow preventers are internal devices that are not located near the JEA water supply pipe. They isolate potential hazards in one area from other areas of the customer’s water system. JEA policy does not require installation, maintenance or annual testing of isolation (internal) backflow preventers. Installation and testing of these devices may be required by other entities, however, such as the local plumbing code, health department regulations or fire codes. Under most circumstances, commercial customers do not need to submit annual certification reports for isolation devices to JEA.

For premises with both isolation and containment devices, JEA requires only the containment backflow preventer (near the water meter) to be certified annually. Test reports for isolation devices do not need to be submitted to JEA.

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Closed Title:Wet Pipe Sprinkler Systems
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Fire sprinkler systems may present a hazard to public drinking water supply. Standing water that collects in the pipes can corrode metals, contaminating the water dispersed by the sprinklers. For this reason, fire sprinkler systems are required to have approved backflow preventers installed and maintained.

Location Scenarios

  • Sprinkler system fed by dedicated pipe: The preventer will be on the customer’s property and within 10 feet of the JEA distribution connection.
  • Sprinkler system fed from the same meter as the drinking water: The preventer must be installed in either one of the following locations:
    • On the customer’s property no farther than 10 feet from the JEA water meter
    • On the customer’s sprinkler system at the point where it first branches off from the customer’s main water supply pipe. Placement in this location protects both the customer’s drinking water and the public system from potential contamination.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Backflow Testing

If you have additional questions or need more information about backflow preventer testing, please contact the JEA Cross-Connection Control team at (904) 665-4410.

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Closed Title:What is a backflow preventer, and what does it do?
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A backflow preventer is a device that allows water to flow from a utility supply line into your building, but never in the opposite direction. It is designed to prevent drinking water from being contaminated due to backflow, or introduction of various substances such as cleaning solutions, fertilizers or human waste into the public water supply.

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Closed Title:I didn’t know I had a backflow preventer. Where is it?
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Backflow preventers should be located within 10 feet of your JEA water meter. For fire sprinkler services, it should be near the point where the water service enters your property.

Backflow preventers are usually located outside commercial buildings or establishments. However, some backflow preventers are indoors, such as in dedicated fire service rooms. Qualified JEA backflow testers will know where to find them and understand backflow preventer requirements. You or your tester can also contact the JEA Cross-Connection Control Team at the number provided below for more information. If your commercial JEA water service does not use the required backflow preventer, one must be installed. 

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Closed Title:I just received a notice from JEA that my backflow preventer needs to be tested. Why is testing needed?
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Properly installed and maintained backflow preventers protect our drinking water supply and help ensure all JEA customers have a reliable source of clean water. JEA and Florida law require water service customers maintain backflow preventers on their JEA water service lines. Annual testing is part of this maintenance requirement.

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Closed Title:I’ve gotten several calls from JEA and vendors about my backflow preventer. Why so many calls? And are these vendors legitimate and qualified to conduct tests?
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JEA sends emails and automated phone calls to each commercial customer with a backflow preventer(s) due for testing. JEA Qualified Vendors also may contact you to schedule testing. While you’re not required to hire any vendor that contacts you, the vendor you select must be a JEA Qualified Vendor.

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Closed Title:Which backflow preventers need to be tested?
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All JEA commercial water services must have a backflow preventer. This includes, but is not limited to, potable water, irrigation, and fire services.  Backflow preventers on commercial services must be tested annually, and immediately following an installation, repair or replacement. 

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Closed Title:How much does a test, repair or installation cost?
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Costs vary from vendor to vendor and generally differ based on the type, size and location of the backflow preventer. JEA recommends contacting multiple vendors to compare pricing and capabilities.

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Closed Title:My backflow preventer failed. What do I need to do?
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If your backflow preventer fails, it means that it is not operating properly and poses a potential threat to the community water system. The responsible party must ensure that the necessary repairs are completed as soon as possible. If it can’t be repaired, it must be replaced. Either way, it must be retested.

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Closed Title:My backflow preventer failed and the testing vendor says I have to replace it at a cost. Can it be repaired instead?
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Under most circumstances, backflow preventers can be easily repaired. However, because they are mechanical devices with moving parts, more significant repairs may be needed. Complete replacement should be a rare occurrence. JEA recommends contacting multiple vendors for pricing and/or a second opinion if desired.

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Closed Title:My backflow preventer passed but I keep getting reminder notices. Why?
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JEA Qualified Vendors must send backflow preventer test reports within 30 days. If you’re still getting notices, your backflow preventer may have not passed or the vendor may not have submitted the report promptly. JEA recommends contacting your vendor directly.  

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Closed Title:What happens if I don’t comply with tests, or repair or replace a faulty backflow preventer?
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JEA may arrange for a backflow preventer to be tested, then add the testing cost to the customer’s utility bill . Customers who do not comply also may incur penalties or fines and may risk discontinuation of their utility services. JEA only uses these actions as a last resort to ensure the safety of the public water supply. 

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Closed Title:Can’t JEA just do this for me and bill me?
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JEA is planning to offer this service to commercial customers in the near future. Check back soon for details on how you can sign up to have a JEA Qualified Vendor test your backflow prevention device(s). Until then, testing and maintenance remain the responsibility of the customer.

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Closed Title:I am just a tenant and not the building owner. What do I need to do?
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JEA considers the recipient of the monthly bill the responsible party. You may wish to contact the building owner/management company to determine the correct course of action.

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Closed Title:Why has the need for testing not been emphasized in the past?
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The protection of the public water supply has always been one of JEA’s highest priorities. JEA has sent annual reminder letters to all commercial water customers for several years.  We are also working to increase awareness through customer education programs. 

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Closed Title:What if I have additional questions or need more information about my backflow preventer testing?
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Contact the JEA Cross-Connection Control Team at (904) 665-6250 or email backflow@jea.com. 

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If your system requires repairs or replacement, one of JEA's qualified backflow testing vendors may offer these services. Please contact them for more information.

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