Backflow Prevention Program

1. Overview

Providing safe drinking water to the Snowy Monaro Local Government Area is our highest priority. In compliance with the Drinking Water Guidelines of Australia, we follow strict standards to ensure that the public drinking water supply remains safe. 

Our customers also have a responsibility to help keep the public water supply safe.  Here's how:

  • Your water service connection(s) must be equipped with a backflow prevention device.
  • All properties with a connection to the public water supply must have a backflow prevention device.
  • All properties with a connection to the public water supply must have a backflow prevention device installed in accordance with the NSW Code of Practice and AS/NZ 3500.1.
  • Properties with a medium or high hazard rating require a testable device.  You will need to consult a backflow accredited plumber to determine the rating of your property.
  • If your property has more than one water meter you will need to install a backflow prevention device on each of the water meters.
  • Particular care needs to be given to in ground tanks and pools or other infrastructure that may lead to the contamination of the water supply.

2. What is backflow? 

Backflow is the backwards flow of water through a pipe. The normal direction of water flow is from the utility water main to homes or businesses. The backflow of water from home plumbing systems into community drinking water happens when water is pulled backwards due to a pressure loss in the utility main pipe or pushed back by a pressure source like a well pump. 

Cross-connections are connections between drinking water and other water or fluids of unknown quality. A backflow preventer is required at each water service connection. If your water piping is connected to a source of water of undrinkable fluid, a cross connection has occurred.
The term backflow means any unintended reversal of flow of potentially contaminated water into the public water supply system. 


3. How can backflow occur? 

Backflow can occur when:

  • Pressure is reduced in the water main
  • There is a cross connection between the drinking water supply and a contaminated source
  • A nearby property used the water supply


4. Who needs a backflow prevention device? 

All commercial, industrial and multi-property residential customers must install a testable backflow device. 

5. Why do I need to install a backflow device? 

 To prevent backflow, a suitable backflow prevention device must be installed at a meter for all properties connected to the water supply. A properly working and maintained backflow device will prevent potentially contaminated water from flowing in the wrong direction. 

The hazard rating of the processes carried out on your property will determine what type of device you need to install.  The three hazard ratings identified by AS/NZ3500.1 are:

  • High hazard - any condition, device or practice which in connection with the water supply system has the potential to cause death.
  • Medium hazard - any condition, device or practice which in conjunction with the water supply system could endanger health.
  • Low hazard - any condition, device or practice which in connection with the water supply system could constitute a nuisance but not endanger health.

Because processes differ within each property type, you will need a backflow accredited plumber to determine your property's hazard rating and which device is suitable for your property.

6. Annual Testing

Customers who have a testable backflow device installed are required to have the device tested at least every 12 months.
Annual testing ensures that the backflow device continues to operate correctly.  A defective device can:

  • Cause a backflow incident
  • Allow water to escape through leaking devices


7. Penalties

It is an offence not to install, repair, maintain, replace or test a backflow device as requested by a notice issued by Council.  If you do not comply, Council may carry out the required work and charge you for the service.  Snowy Monaro Regional Council may disconnect or restrict the customer from the public water supply system until they comply with the notice. 


8. Who pays for the device and its installation? 

It is the responsibility of the property owner to pay for the device, installation and annual tests for testable devices. 

9. Backflow accredited plumbers 

A backflow accredited plumber must commission and test the backflow device. The inspection and maintenance reports and relevant fees must be applied to Snowy Monaro Regional Council within two days of commissioning the devices to ensure compliance with Council requirements.