2016 Backflow Initiative


TCEQ’s rules identify a health hazard as any substance, if introduced into the public water supply that may cause death, illness, or the spread of disease. A non-health hazard is any substance that constitutes a nuisance, or that would be aesthetically objectionable if introduced into the public water supply. An effective cross-connection-control program must include appropriate means to prevent backflow, often by installing mechanical backflow prevention assemblies.


At the TCEQ’s CCC Subcommittee meeting on March 3, 2016, discussions were held between many of the members regarding TCEQ’s classification of Landscape Irrigation Systems as non-health hazards and the lack of periodic testing.  After a thorough discussion a motion was made and seconded and a vote was taken. Those in attendance overwhelming supported the reclassification of Landscape Irrigation Systems as health hazards requiring annual backflow testing. This reclassification will align the state of Texas and TCEQ with national standards and the approved plumbing codes used in Texas.





Beginning January 1, 2018 or sooner, all Landscape Irrigation Systems should be recognized as a health hazard and the appropriate backflow assembly will be installed and tested upon installation and tested annually thereafter. [30 TAC 290.44(h)(4)]



Backflow-prevention assemblies are subject to failure over time. Periodic testing of installed backflow prevention assemblies ensures that they are maintained and operating properly.  Licensed BPAT’s testing the assembly also certifies whether the backflow assembly’s installation complies with manufacturer recommendations and local codes.


Therefore, all existing, gauge testable, Landscape Irrigation Systems Backflow Assemblies installed January 1, 2018 and earlier, that have not been tested in the three preceding years (January 1, 2015) are to be tested no later than August 31, 2021 and at least annually thereafter.


The testing sequence shall follow a schedule based on Postal Zip Codes of the Landscape Irrigation Systems Backflow Assemblies installation location. The results of the backflow test must be submitted by the last day of the month corresponding to the last number of the Postal Zip Codes 1 = January, 2 = February, 3 = March, 4 = April, 5 = May, 6 = June, 7 = July, 8 = August, 9 = September, 0 = October. Postal Zip Codes ending in 0, 1, and 2 must test in 2019. Postal Zip Codes ending in 3, 4, and 5 must test in 2020. Postal Zip Codes ending in 6, 7, 8, and 9 must test in 2021.



Any Landscape Irrigation System Backflow Assembly installed prior to January 1, 2018, not approved for protection for Health Hazards, may remain in service until such time as the assembly can no longer be repaired and pass a successful test. At such time, the assembly must be brought up to current standards and replaced with an assembly approved for the protection against Health Hazards.



The TCEQ considers its rules to be minimum standards. If a PWS writes and adopts a plumbing ordinance, regulation, or service agreement that is more stringent than TCEQ rules and regulations, customers and contractors must follow the more stringent requirements. Similarly, if a PWS supplies water in an area that has adopted more stringent requirements than TCEQ rules; the more stringent requirements must be followed.