Homes or other facilities that have an auxiliary water supply, such as a private well, a rainwater harvesting system or a pump in a lake, must install a Reduced Pressure Backflow Prevention Assembly (RPZ) at the meter. The existence of an auxiliary water supply that is outside the sanitary control of the public water system creates the potential of a cross connection between the public water system and the other source. In these situations, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality requires the highest level of backflow prevention protection, an RPZ, be installed to protect the public water supply.
Installing an RPZ creates a closed water system on the property, triggering a Plumbing Code requirement for a thermal expansion tank on the cold water piping to the water heater. In open systems, pressure build up in the water heater is released back through the meter.
Connections of a public water supply and an auxiliary water supply are prohibited by City of Fort Worth Plumbing Code, even with the installation of an RPZ. City ordinances require that any structure connected to the Fort Worth water system meet city plumbing standards. Fort Worth cannot connect you to the water system if you do not comply.
Customers have the option to not install a backflow preventer (RPZ) on their water service, but that is contingent on abandoning the auxiliary water source. A customer service investigation is required to validate the removal of the auxiliary water source.
For wells, that requires plugging it in accordance with state regulations and providing the plugging report to the water utility. Visit the Abandoning Wells section below for more information.
For an irrigation system using lake water, the entire irrigation system would need to be removed, including pumps, spray heads, valve boxes, hose connections, controllers, electrical wiring, etc.
Reduced Pressure Backflow Prevention Assembly (RPZ) Requirements
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.
Reduced Pressure Backflow Prevention Assembly (RPZ) Permits
You will need at least two permits—one plumbing backflow permit and one plumbing permit for the thermal expansion tank. If the irrigation system is new, is having zones added or modifications to over 20 percent of an existing system, a lawn sprinkler permit is required.
Permit applications can be completed online or in person through the City of Fort Worth Development Services Department, located on the lower level of City Hall, 200 Texas St. Registration in the permitting system is required prior to completing an online application.
Visit the Development Services Department to determine the plumbing permit costs or call Development Services at 817-392-2222.
Fort Worth allows homeowners to do plumbing work on their own residences, but the required permits still need to be obtained. The homeowner must present documentation showing that the home and is his or her homestead. Permits can be obtained based on data in the Tarrant Appraisal District records. Additionally, the address on the applicant’s driver’s license must match the address of the home for which the permit is being obtained.
Reduced Pressure Backflow Prevention Assembly (RPZ) Inspections
A residential inspector from the Fort Worth Development Services Department will inspect the thermal expansion tank installation. A certified backflow inspector from the water utility will inspect the RPZ installation and lawn sprinkler system, if necessary. The RPZ requires an annual inspection by a Registered Backflow Tester. The annual inspection is not performed by Fort Worth staff.
Texas law makes the landowner responsible for plugging abandoned wells, which can be potential avenues for groundwater contamination as well as a safety hazard for children and animals. The landowner is also held responsible for injury or pollution related to the abandoned well.
Before beginning the process of plugging a well, it is highly recommended that the landowner seek advice from the local Groundwater Conservation District, a licensed water well driller and/or pump installer in the area, or the Well Driller/Pump Installer/Abandoned Well Referral Program of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR).
More information can be found at:
Frequently Ask Questions about Auxiliary Water Sources