Backflow Prevention

Backflow Prevention

backflow prevention device on an irrigation system

Backflow prevention devices protect our drinking water from contamination.

A backflow preventer stops water inside your water pipes from returning or flowing back to the City system due to suction in the pipes. Backflow into a water system can pollute or contaminate the water in that system. The basic mechanism for preventing backflow is a mechanical backflow preventer, which provides a physical barrier to backflow.

A backflow prevention device is required for the following types of customers:

  • Customers with an in-ground irrigation system and those where a separate potable lawn meter is in place.
  • Customers with an alternative water supply (well, lake, pond, reclaimed water).
  • Customers with dedicated fireline service connection (most multistoried commercial buildings, anyone required to install fire sprinkler system, stand pipe riser, or hydrants on site.
  • Customers with water systems determined by the Tampa Water Department to pose potential cross-contamination concerns, detailed in Sec. 26.83(a) of Tampa City Code.

Why do backflow preventers have to be tested periodically?


Mechanical backflow preventers have internal seals, springs, and moving parts that are subject to fouling, wear, and must be tested with properly calibrated equipment to ensure they are working correctly.

Backflow prevention assemblies at locations where dedicated fireline and reclaimed water services are provided are maintained annually by the Tampa Water Department. All other backflow prevention devices are customer owned and maintained and require customer-initiated annual testing by a certified backflow prevention device technician.

Annual backflow prevention device test results for customer-owned backflow prevention devices must be submitted to the Tampa Water Department Cross-Connection Control Section. Call (813) 231-5266 for more information.

For more information on approved backflow preventer devices and Tampa's installation requirements, please contact the Construction Services Division at (813) 274-3100.

More information on cross-connection prevention and backflow prevention is available on the Florida Department of Environmental Protection website.

(page last reviewed: 6/24/14)