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Portland Water Bureau

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Reminder: Yearly Testing for Single-Family Home Backflow Assemblies Starts Now!

By Lindsay Wochnick

Does your home have a lawn and garden irrigation system? How about a radiant heating system or boiler? These systems are required to have a backflow assembly to prevent contamination of the drinking water system. The backflow assembly is located between your house and the drinking water supply. They allow water to enter your irrigation system or home while at the same time preventing water that is in your system from flowing back into the drinking water supply. Once a year homeowners are required to test the backflow assemblies connected to their system. Backflow assemblies are essential in keeping you, your family, and Portland’s drinking water safe.

Why do I have to test my backflow assembly every year?
Testing is required every year by the State of Oregon Health Authority to ensure that your assembly is functioning properly. Every year in April and May, the Portland Water Bureau sends reminder letters to single-family homes to test their backflow assemblies. The perfect time to test is between April and June since this is after freezing weather has passed, which can damage your backflow assembly, and before the heavy watering season begins.

Who can test my backflow assembly?
Homeowners need to hire a private company to test their backflow assembly. The Oregon Health Authority provides a list of state certified backflow assembly testers on their website. Some of these companies specialize in specifically testing backflow assemblies, and some are landscape companies that provide that service. Either type of company can perform the testing you need. The market is fairly competitive, so homeowners can expect to pay between $35 and $45 per test.

What happens during a test?
The tester will test your assemblies and record the assembly serial number and test results. Your tester may or may not use stickers that the Portland Water Bureau provides as a courtesy with your reminder letter. If they don’t use them, your test is still valid, and you may just discard the stickers. When finished, the tester will then give you a copy of the report, keep a copy for themselves, and send a copy to the Portland Water Bureau. When the Portland Water Bureau Backflow Records department receives the test report, your account is updated with the results and is marked as up-to-date.

Annual testing is necessary to let the State and Portland Water Bureau know that your backflow assembly is in compliance every year, and assures you that you are keeping your family’s drinking water safe.

Questions about your backflow assembly or backflow assembly testing?
Contact Portland Water Bureau Backflow Records at 503-823-3256.


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