In 2018, Ottawa launched its backflow prevention program, which is to be phased in over a ten year duration. The program will first look to newer commercial buildings and industrial sites, while older buildings will be required to add new backflow prevention systems and undergo testing. However, if you are an Ottawa homeowner, you don’t have to worry too much. Most of the plumbing pieces that are required by this new legislation are already part of the building code or connected to irrigation systems.


If you own a property at risk of backflow, your local municipality will contact you. Properties with severe risks are going to be addressed before December 2020, while those with moderate risks will be seen before December 2025. All notifications are estimated to be complete by 2022.


What is Backflow?

A Backflow is an undesired reversal of water flowing between the distribution system and your private system, due to changes in the water pressure. Backflow, or reversal, can cause contaminants that were flushed away to reenter the drinking water distribution system and puts public health at risk.


Backflow is caused by one of two issues:


  • Back pressure: Happens when pressure in a private system is greater than the public distribution system. This is often caused by elevated tanks, pumps, increased temperature in boilers, or other localized pressure events.
  • Back siphonage: Happens when the municipality’s system has lower pressure than a private system. Oftentimes, fire-fighting or water main breaks are the cause. The backflow pulls contaminated water away from private systems and into the public distribution system.


Standards & Regulations

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) created the Manual for the Selection and Installation of Backflow Preventers/Maintenance and Field Testing of Backflow Preventers as a means of setting standards. Professional plumbers will not only have these standards, but they will also follow Ontario Building Code and other Ottawa regulations.


As mentioned, some properties will be “at risk” and marked either moderate or severe. Here is how the CSA describes these two categories:


  • Moderate: Low probability of becoming a severe hazard with maintenance. The water quality has been reduced and may create health risks.
  • Severe: The water may have additives or other substances that can create health risks to those who use or consume it.



Depending on the severity of the backflow risk, affected property owners in Ottawa will need licensed professionals to do the following:


  • Conduct on-site surveys annually for 5 years to check the risks and report the backflow prevention measures to the city
  • Install backflow prevention devices on the property
  • Test the installed devices annually and submit reports to the municipality


How Can The Irish Plumber Help?

Don’t worry. We have you covered. The Irish Plumber has all the qualifications and training required by the Canadian Standards Association to conduct site surveys, select and install the necessary backflow devices, and maintain those devices throughout the years. Our team of professionals have plenty of experience to assist you with complying to the Ottawa Backflow Prevention Program.


We even have backflow devices—Double Check Valve Assemblies (DCVA) and Reduced Pressure Principle Assemblies (RP)—in stock and available for purchase. A team member can help you assess which backflow device is best suited for your property, so don’t hesitate to give us a call and set up an appointment.