Alternate Water Sources (Wells)
I have a well for irrigation and want to keep it. What do I need to do?
You must install a backflow prevention device called an RPZ on your water service and an expansion tank on your water heater. The existence of a well on-site creates the possibility of a cross connection between two water sources. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality requires the highest level of backflow protection – an RPZ – be installed to protect the municipal water supply from cross contamination in situations where a secondary (or alternate) source of water that is outside the sanitary control of the public utility is available to a property.
The installation of the RPZ creates a closed water system in your home. Without an expansion tank, pressure build up in the water heater is released back through the meter. The RPZ prevents this release through the meter. That is why an expansion tank is required. This is installed on the cold water piping to the water heater.
You have the option to not install a backflow preventer (RPZ) on your water service, but that is contingent on abandoning the well, plugging it and providing the plugging report to the Water Department. Visit the Abandoned Wells page for more information on how to plug an abandoned well.
If you decide to keep the well and use it for irrigation purposes, you must install an RPZ on the water service and meet TCEQ Rules for Landscape Irrigation which requires that “any irrigation system that is connected to a public or private potable water supply must be connected through a commission-approved backflow prevention method.
What are the requirements for an RPZ?
The RPZ must be labeled as USC approved. It is installed above ground and requires 12-inches of clearance from ground level to bottom of the relief valve opening. Freeze protection equivalent to ¾-inch wall installation is required. If the RPZ is enclosed in an insulated box for freeze protection, there must be a drain to daylight.
Assemblies shall be installed at the point of delivery of the water supply, before any branch in the line, and on private property located just inside the boundary of the city’s right-of-way. An inspector may specify other areas for installation of the assembly.
Do I need any permits for this work?
- Yes. City ordinances require that any structure connected to the Fort Worth water system meet city plumbing standards. The Water Department cannot connect you to the Fort Worth system if you do not comply. Fort Worth has adopted the 2003 International Plumbing Code and the 2003 International Residential Code with local amendments.
How much do the permits cost and how do I obtain them?
Permits are obtained from the City of Fort Worth Development Department, located on the lower level of City Hall. You will need two permits – one for the RPZ and one for the expansion tank. Each permit is $27.11 for a total of $54.22.
Fort Worth does allow homeowners to do plumbing work on their own residences. You still need to obtain the permits, and you must present documentation showing that you own the home and it is your homestead. Permits can be obtained from Tarrant Appraisal District records. Additionally, the address on your driver’s license must match the address of the home for which you are obtaining the permit.
Who performs the inspections?
- A residential inspector from the Fort Worth Development Department will inspect the expansion tank installation. A certified backflow inspector from the Water Department will inspect the RPZ installation. The RPZ requires an annual inspection by a registered backflow tester. This is not done by the city. It must be performed by someone on Fort Worth’s list of Registered Backflow Testers.
Can I have my house connected to both the city water supply and a well?
- No. Connections of a public water supply and a private water supply are prohibited by City of Fort Worth Plumbing Code. The connection of both a public water supply and a private water supply is considered a cross connection and is not allowed even with a backflow device.
If you have any questions or would like any additional information, contact us:
Backflow/Cross Connection Control Section
920 Fournier St.
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