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Backflow and Cross Connection Control

General Information

Water distribution systems are designed for one-way water flow, from the distribution system to the consumer. However, hydraulic conditions within the system may deviate from the “normal” conditions, causing water to flow in the opposite direction in unprotected systems. This is called backflow.

Backflow occurs when the pressure in the distribution system drops, siphoning water from the consumer’s system into the distribution system. This is called back siphonage. Some water customers have non-potable materials on the premises under pressure. When an unprotected water line is attached to the container or pipes holding pressurized material the material may be “pumped” back into the potable water system. This is called back pressure. Either of these conditions will cause any substance that may be in contact with the water system to be directed back into the potable water supply.

Fort Worth spends millions of dollars to purify and treat water before it is delivered to the consumer. However, most people are unaware that Fort Worth also expends great effort protecting the water from the possibilities of contamination or pollution while it flows through the distribution system.

For over one hundred years, there are documented incidents of contaminants and pollutants that flowed backwards into potable drinking water supplies. A few water utilities instituted modest programs, as early as the 1930s, to prevent backflow from occurring.

Federal and state regulations require water suppliers to protect their water systems from contamination or pollution. To do this, Fort Worth conducts surveys of high-risk facilities throughout the system. Through these surveys, the Fort Worth determines the extent of backflow protection that is required to protect the water supply and the public from possible contaminants.

Fort Worth also requires annual testing of all backflow protection assemblies on commercial property and all backflow assemblies installed to protect against health hazards, regardless of property type. The testing must be performed by licensed and registered testers. All registered testers are independent contractors and are not associated with the City of Fort Worth.

All new backflow assembly installations, relocations, replacements or removals require a Plumbing Backflow permit from the Planning and Development Department. Assemblies must be tested by a registered tester prior to requesting an inspection. All test reports must be available onsite for inspection. Incomplete, inaccurate and /or illegible test forms are considered invalid and will result in a failed inspection. Inspections are performed by water utility staff who are a certified cross connection inspector.

Additionally, to safeguard public health, all auxiliary water sources and contractor meters must have a backflow protection assembly. Meters must be protected by a backflow assembly or air gap and the assembly must be tested upon installation, repair or relocation.

Additional Information

Backflow Guidelines, Installation Standards & Specifications
Backflow Test sheet
Reporting Procedures and Inspection Request Form for All New Combination and Dedicated Fire Line Backflow Assemblies Registered Tester List

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

30 TAC 290.44 Water Distribution

City of Fort Worth

City Code, Part II, Chapter 12.5 Environmental Protection and Compliance, Article 5, Division 3

2015 International Plumbing Code Section 608 Protection of Potable Water Supply
Local amendments: City Code, Part II, Chapter 26, Plumbing

Contact Information

Backflow/Cross Connection Control Section
817-392-8375
backflow@fortworthtexas.gov