Backflow and Cross Connection Control

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

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. Use the tabs to learn more about backflow requirements, inspections and testing.

As a condition of water service, city ordinances require all customers to install, maintain and operate their piping and plumbing systems in accordance with the city’s Plumbing Code and its Environmental Protection and Compliance Ordinance No. 12274. If there is a conflict between this guidance document and these codes, the more restrictive provision applies.


General information

Backflow Causes

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.

Backflow Inspections

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.

Backflow Testing

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.

Backflow Permitting

All new backflow assembly installations, relocations, replacements or removals require a Plumbing Backflow permit from the Development Services 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 locations with onsite 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.



When required

As a condition of water service, all customers shall install, maintain, and operate their piping and plumbing systems in accordance with the city’s Plumbing Code and its Environmental Protection and Compliance Ordinance No. 12274. If there is a conflict between this guidance document and these codes, the more restrictive provision applies.

At a minimum, a backflow prevention assembly is required in each of the following circumstances:

  1. When the nature and extent of any activity at a premise, or the materials used in connection with any activity at a premise, or materials stored at a premise, could contaminate or pollute the potable water supply. 
  2. When a premises has one or more cross connections
  3. When internal cross connections are present that are not correctable. 
  4. When intricate plumbing arrangements are present that make it impractical to ascertain whether cross connections exist. 
  5. When a premises has a repeated history of cross connections being established or re-established. 
  6. When entry to a premise is unduly restricted so that inspections for cross connections cannot be made with sufficient frequency to assure that cross connections do not exist. 
  7. When materials are being used such that, if backflow should occur, a health hazard could result. 
  8. When installation of an approved backflow prevention assembly is deemed by an Inspector to be necessary to accomplish the purpose of these regulations. 
  9. When an appropriate cross connection survey report form has not been filed with the Water Director. 
  10. When a fire sprinkler system using non-potable piping material is connected to the city's water system. 
  11. In all new nonresidential construction there shall be installed an approved backflow assembly at the service connection. The type of the assembly will be commensurate with the degree of hazard as determined by an inspector. 
  12. When a building is constructed on commercial premises, and the end use of such building is not determined or could change, a reduced pressure principle backflow prevention assembly shall be installed at the service connection to provide protection of the public water supply in the event of the most hazardous use of the building. 
  13. If a premises is required to have backflow prevention assemblies, but water cannot be turned off during the testing of such assemblies, the premises shall be equipped with dual backflow prevention assemblies of the same type so that testing, repair and maintenance can be performed. 
  14. Any used water return system that has received approval from the Water Director. 
  15. If a point-of-use assembly has not been tested or repaired as required, a premise isolation assembly shall be required. 
  16. If a backflow or plumbing inspector determines that additions or rearrangements have been made to the plumbing system without the proper permits as required by the Plumbing Code, premise isolation shall be required. 
  17. All multistory buildings or any building with a booster pump or elevated storage tank. 
  18. Retrofitting shall be required on all health hazard connections and wherever else the Water Director deems retrofitting necessary. (No “Grandfathering” for health hazards – ever.) 
  19. Any premises requiring multiple service connections for adequacy of supply and/or fire protection shall have a backflow assembly on each service connection. The assembly shall be commensurate with the degree of potential hazard that could occur in the event of an interconnection between any of the buildings on the premises.

Installation requirements

Backflow prevention assemblies shall be installed in accordance with the Plumbing Code and city ordinances. The assembly installer shall obtain the required plumbing permits prior to installation and shall have the assembly inspected by a certified cross connection inspector and as required by the Plumbing Code.

  1. No part of a reduced pressure principle backflow prevention assembly shall be submerged in water or installed in a location subject to flooding. All assemblies installed below grade shall have non-ferrous threaded plugs inserted in the test ports. 
  2. 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. The assembly shall be protected from freezing and other severe weather conditions. 
  3. All vertical installations shall be approved, in writing, prior to installation and all vertical installations must be of an assembly approved by USCFCCCHR. 
  4. The assembly shall be readily accessible with adequate room for maintenance and testing. Assemblies two (2) inches and smaller shall have at least a six (6) -inch clearance on all sides of the assembly. All assemblies larger than two (2) inches shall have a minimum clearance of twelve (12) inches on the back side, twenty-four (24) inches on the test cock side, twelve (12) inches below the assembly and thirty-six (36) inches above the assembly. 
  5. If the Water Director grants written permission to install the backflow assembly inside of a building, the assembly shall be readily accessible between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. 
  6. If an assembly is installed pursuant to Ordinance 12274 12.5-531, subsection (a)(8), and is four (4) inches or larger and is installed five (5) feet or higher above the floor, it shall be equipped with a rigidly and permanently installed scaffolding acceptable to the Water Director. This installation shall also meet all applicable requirements set out by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the State of Texas occupational safety and health laws. 
  7. RP assemblies may be installed in a vault only if relief valve discharge can be drained to daylight through a bore sight type drain. The drain shall be of adequate capacity to carry the full rated flow of the assembly and shall be screened on both ends. 
  8. An approved air gap shall be located at the relief valve orifice of RP assemblies. This air gap shall be at least twice the inside diameter of the incoming supply line as measured vertically above the top rim of the drain and in no case less than one (1) inch. 
  9. All assemblies installed in a vault that is 5 ft. from finish floor to top of lid must have a permanently installed ladder. 
  10. Vaults must have BILCO type J, JD or equivalent. Vaults in high traffic areas must have BILCO type HLC or equivalent.

Required - Point of Use (Internal) Protection Systems

Trap primers

Point of Use

Aspirator (medical)


Bedpan Washers




Specimen tanks






Lab Bench equipment


Autopsy and mortuary equipment


Sewage pump


Sewage ejectors


Fire-fighting system w/chemical introduction


Connection to sewer pipe


Connection to plating tanks


Irrigation systems with chemical additives or agents


Connection to salt-water cooling system


Tanks, vats or other vessels containing toxic substances


Connection to industrial fluid systems


Dye vats or machines


Cooling towers with chemical additives


Trap primer


Steam generators


Heating equipment Commercial or Domestic


Irrigation systems (no chemical injection)


Swimming pools Public or Private


Carbonated Drink Dispensers w/pump


Ornamental fountains


Degreasing equipment


Lab bench equipment


Hose bibs


Trap primers


Flexible shower heads


Steam tables


Washing equipment


Shampoo basins


Kitchen equipment




Domestic space-heating boiler



Required Premises Isolation (Reprinted from AWWA Manual M-14)

Description of Cross Connection


Recommended Assembly

All New, Non-residential Construction



Hospitals, mortuaries, clinics, laboratories



Plants using radioactive material



Petroleum processing or storage facilities



Premises where inspection is restricted



Sewage treatment plant



Sewage lift stations



Commercial laundry



Plating or chemical plants



Docks and dockside facilities



Food and beverage processing plants



Pleasure-boat marina



Tall Buildings (protection against excessive head of water)



Steam Plants



Reclaimed water systems




DC = Double Check Valve Backflow-prevention assembly
RPZA = Reduced-pressure principle Backflow prevention-assembly


Special Considerations

Thermal expansion

It is the responsibility of the property owner to eliminate the possibility of thermal expansion, if a closed system has been created by the installation of a backflow assembly.

Pressure Loss

Any water pressure drop caused by the installation of a backflow assembly shall not be the responsibility of the city. The water utility may give reasonable assistance to a property owner regarding information on adequate sizing of assemblies and proper plumbing practices to provide for required pressure and flows for fire protection.

Testing and tester requirements

The City of Fort Worth partners with Vepo, LLC for the mailing of annual testing notices and online submission of Backflow Prevention Assembly Test and Maintenance Reports. All testing information will be entered directly by the tester into the online password protected Envirotrax system provided by Vepo, LLC. 

Testers must submit test reports directly to Vepo, LLC online.

Testers must be registered with the City of Fort Worth. 

Testing Requirements for Backflow Prevention Assemblies

All backflow protection assemblies must be tested upon installation, repair or relocation; and annually thereafter. Because backflow prevention assemblies are mechanical devices that will degrade over time, all backflow assemblies must be tested annually to ensure they are in working order.

Note: Backflow prevention assemblies on fire protection sprinkler systems are required by the State Fire Marshal to be tested and/or repaired by a BPAT who is a full‐time employee of a fire protection sprinkler company that is licensed with the State Fire Marshal's Office.

The Envirotrax system is a complete online backflow assembly testing, tracking and reporting system.

Tester Registration

All Backflow Prevention Assembly Testers (BPATs) are required to register with Vepo, LLC. Upon registration and verification of license, insurance, and test for accuracy reports, the tester will be added to the approved list of Backflow Prevention Assembly Testers. If you’re interested in becoming a Backflow or Rain & Freeze Sensor Registered Tester, please visit the VEPO website. There is currently no cost to register with the City of Fort Worth. 

Rain & Freeze Sensor Tester Requirements

  • Tester Registration form 
  • T.S.B.P.E. Plumbing and/or T.C.E.Q. Irrigation License 
  • Valid Driver’s license

An applicant must provide their current registration number issued by the City of Fort Worth Development Services Department in order to register as a Rain/Freeze Sensor Tester. To contact Development Services, please call 817-392-2222.

Backflow Tester Requirements

  • Tester registration form
  • TCEQ Backflow License
  •  Confined Space Certificate
  • Valid Driver’s License
  •  Gauge Calibration Certificate
  •  Current Proof of Insurance ($500,000 minimum General Liability) Certificate holder must be the City of Fort Worth-Cross Connection Section, 920 Fournier St., Fort Worth, TX 76102
  •  Fire line companies must provide copies and updates of current SCR and RME licenses.
  •  Backflow Assembly Inspection Request Form(PDF, 95KB) (for Dedicated, Combination and Anti-Freeze Loop, Fire Line Backflow Assemblies)



Any irrigation system that is connected to a public or private potable water supply must be connected through an approved backflow prevention assembly, and must be tested upon installation or repair by a licensed Backflow Prevention Assembly Tester (BPAT) registered with the City of Fort Worth water utility.

State law allows a homeowner to perform this work at their residence; however, any other persons performing this work must be a licensed plumber or irrigator that is registered as a contractor with the City of Fort Worth.

Landscape Irrigation System Permits

A permit is required for the installation or alteration of landscape irrigation systems. These systems must comply with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Title 30, Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Chapter 344 Rules for Landscape Irrigation and City of Fort Worth Texas Ordinance No. 18444.

The Installer/Contractor shall obtain the required Backflow/Irrigation Permit(s) for all newly installed or altered irrigation systems. The Installer/Contractor performing the work is responsible for scheduling and insuring the work is ready for inspection.

Landscape Irrigation Backflow Prevention Protection Installation and Testing

Any irrigation system connected to a public or private potable water supply must be connected through an approved backflow prevention method.

A permit from the Development Services Department is required before work begins.

State law allows a homeowner to do installation at their residence. However, any other persons performing this work must be a licensed plumber or irrigator registered as a contractor with the City of Fort Worth.

All installed, altered, or repaired backflow assemblies for irrigation systems must be tested by a licensed Backflow Prevention Assembly Tester (BPAT) registered with the City of Fort Worth water utility at VEPO, LLC. Commercial class irrigation backflows are tested annually.

Backflow Installation Requirements 

  • Irrigations systems must have an appropriate backflow assembly at the potable water connection. 
  • Assembly must not be covered by sod, dirt, or construction debris. Test ports must have brass or plastic threaded plugs. 
  • The DCVA shall be readily accessible with adequate room for testing and maintenance. DCVA two-inches (2) and smaller shall have at least a three-inch (3) clearance below and on both sides of the assembly. (Sec. 12.5-556) “Y” pattern DCVA shall be installed so that the checks are horizontal and the test cocks face upward. Variances from these specifications are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Any variance must meet the established criteria as listed in Section 12.5-556(k) of Fort Worth Code of Ordinances.
  • There must be at least six inches of gravel under the assembly.
  • Water must be ON.
  • Assembly Orientation must be as designed and as tested by USC.
  • The box must have solid walls constructed with non-decaying materials that extend to the gravel base.
  • All irrigation systems must include an isolation valve between the water meter and the backflow prevention assembly.
  • A flow control master valve shall be installed on the discharge side of the backflow prevention assembly on all new installations.

Backflow Prevention Assembly Testing & Inspection

Backflow prevention assemblies (BPA) require testing upon installation and PRIOR to an inspection request.

A licensed Backflow Prevention Assembly Tester (BPAT) registered with the City of Fort Worth water utility must perform the testing and submit the completed test results to VEPO, LLC for all assemblies, including new and altered assemblies, replacements, and removals. 

Incomplete, missing or inaccurate test reports in VEPO will result in a failed inspection.

Required Test Form Information 

  • Facility Name and Service Address – (Physical Assembly Location)
  • Mailing Name - (Owner/Occupant responsible for the testing and repair of all backflow assemblies on premise.

  • Mailing Address - (Street Number /Street Name/City /State/Zip Code) or (PO Box /City /State /Zip Code)

  • BPA Location on Premise
  • Hazard Type (Cause to require backflow protection)
  • Date and Time of Test
  • BPA Pass/Fail and Operational Test Results
  • BPA Serial Number/ Type/Size/ Manufacturer/ Model

Landscape Irrigation System Inspection


Prior to the inspection of the irrigation system, the following items must be completed.

  1. Backflow test results must be submitted to VEPO, LLC.
  2. The following items must be placed in a sealed, waterproof bag attached to the accessible irrigation controller:
  • The completed irrigation system Check List & Compliance Certificate form.
  • A paper or electronic copy of the Irrigation Plan. (Variances may be made from the original plan if the irrigator authorizes changes that do not diminish the operation integrity of the system, do not violate any state or local requirements and are noted in red on the irrigation plan).

Failure to provide access to the controller at the time of inspection will result in a failed inspection. The installer/contractor or homeowner need not be present at the time of inspection.

 To schedule an inspection, you will need the Permit Number, Job Address, and Inspection Code. The Installer/Contractor will request a (Code418) inspection via phone by calling the Voice Permits (IVR) at 817-392-6370 or through the City of Fort Worth Development Services Department at 817-392-2222.

Irrigation Plan

The Irrigation Plan must include complete coverage of the area to be irrigated. If a system does not provide complete coverage of the area to be irrigated, it must be noted on the Irrigation Plan.

Irrigation Plans must be drawn to scale and shall include the following information:

  • The irrigator’s seal, signature, and date of signing;
  • All major physical features and the boundaries of the areas to be watered;
  • North arrow;
  • Legend;
  • Zone flow measurement for each zone;
  • Location and type of controllers and sensors;
  • Location, type, and size of water source (i.e. water meter), BPA, water emission devices, including, but not limited to, spray heads, rotary sprinkler heads, quick-couplers, bubblers, drip, or micro-sprays; Valves, including but not limited to, zone valves, master valves, isolation valves and pressure regulation component; and main line and lateral piping;
  • The scale used; and
  • Design pressure.

An irrigator commits an offense if the irrigator fails to provide an Irrigation Plan for the irrigation system that a person installed or caused to be installed.

Rain/Freeze Sensors


Rain/freeze sensors are required on all new and existing commercial irrigation systems. Sensors are required by ordinance to remain in proper working order. 


New residential irrigation systems also must be equipped with rain/freeze sensors. Sensors are required by ordinance to remain in proper working order. 

Homeowners are encouraged to add rain/freeze sensors to existing systems and follow all city watering restrictions.

Landscape Irrigation Resources

Auxiliary Water Sources

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.


Abandoning wells

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