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Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the purpose of these devices?
Backflow prevention devices ensure that water flows only in one direction - from the main line in the street, through the individual service line, and into the home or business. Without these devices, loss of pressure in the main line could allow water in the property owner's lines to drain back into the system.

How do they work?
Backflow prevention assemblies have two valves that use either a flap covering a hole or a ball fitting into a socket to block water from flowing in the wrong direction. At homes, the valves will be in a cylindrical device at a new meter box that will be two or three times larger than boxes used previously.

Why is the County requiring these devices now?
The federal government required vulnerability assessments of water systems nationwide in light of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. State regulations also require backflow prevention devices to safeguard water systems.

Do other entities require backflow prevention devices?
Cross connection control programs that require the use of backflow prevention devices on all potable water services have been in force in Raleigh since 1987, in Durham since 1985, and in Apex since 1993. All of the other top 10 cities in North Carolina also have a cross connection program in force.

Where do the devices go?
At residential property, backflow prevention assemblies typically will go at the water meter box outside the home.

Who is responsible for the backflow installation?
The property owner is the responsible party.

How long do these devices last? Is there a schedule for inspecting or replacing them?  Who is responsible and what is the associated cost?
Property owners must arrange for inspection upon installation and perform yearly tests afterward. Repairs or replacement occurs as needed to ensure proper working order. Customers with backflow prevention devices will be required to submit the annual test information to the County .

Do I have to have a backflow preventer?
All customers who receive their water from the Chatham County are required to have a backflow prevention device on their irrigation meter. All other situations can be found in the Backflow and Cross Connection Control Ordinance.

What if I no longer want to use my irrigation system?
To disconnect an irrigation system that is on a separate meter and not be required to have a backflow test, contact the Public Utilities Division at (919) 542-8270 to have the meter removed.

How can I identify if I already have a backflow prevention device installed?
The backflow prevention device should be located within the front yard. The device is above ground and resembles a backwards shaped letter U. If you are unsure as to whether you have this device (See Below), please contact the Chatham County Public Utilities Division at (919) 542-8270.