City’s backflow prevention program coming back after two-year pause

Notifications to property owners impacted by the program will be sent via email starting in May.

Ottawa’s backflow prevention program is now in the process of starting up again after COVID-19 pushed the program into a two-year hiatus.

In a memo addressed to city council members, Scott Laberge, director of technology, innovation and engineering services, says notifications to property owners will be sent via mail starting in May.

The program was paused in March 2020.

At the time, about 7,900 property owners had been notified, with 2,500 property owners still requiring notification.

Mailouts to impacted property owners will be done in monthly batches, with all notifications expected to be complete by the end of the year.

“At this time, staff do not anticipate any impacts or delays to the original 10-year implementation plan for the program,” Laberge wrote.

In June 2017, city council approved the program’s implementation plan, which aims to protect drinking water quality by ensuring the appropriate installation and inspection of devices that would prevent water from flowing back into the system, and reducing the likelihood of contamination.

The program is focused on preventing backflow events from industrial, commercial and institutional and some multi-residential buildings.

“Backflow prevention is important for public safety and for the long-term safety of the City’s drinking water system,” Laberge continues.

The plan focuses on ensuring compliances for buildings that pose a severe or moderate risk or hazard.

To ensure buildings are compliant, all affected property owners are required to:

  • Conduct a site survey every five years to identify risks and report backflow prevention requirements to the City for review;
  • Install isolation back low devices to prevent contaminants from entering the City’s water supply;
  • Test backflow devices annually to ensure they are functioning properly and submit the test results to the City for review;

The program was initiated in January 2018, with the expectation that 200 property owners per month would be notified from January to June 2019 and the number would increase to 275 monthly notifications from June 2019 to late 2022.

It was anticipated that about 15,500 property owners would be notified by the end of year five of the program.

In order to meet the original timelines of the program, notifications will be accelerated on a monthly basis.

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