Iowa Requires Containment

Every day we rely on water. When we use water from our faucets, we assume it will be free from contamination. The goal of the Iowa City Backflow Prevention Program is to prevent contaminated water or other unapproved substances from entering the water system. Protecting the water system is everyone's responsibility.

The Iowa state plumbing code (641-25.5) requires cities with a population of 15,000 or greater to enact a backflow prevention program with a containment system. The purpose of a containment system is to separate water services in a building from the City's water main. The Uniform Plumbing Code requires devices for isolation within the building. This separates the specific hazard from the buildings plumbing system, thus protecting the building occupants.

Backflow in Iowa City

The City of Iowa City analyzes and surveys all properties that are served by the Iowa City Water Division. This process may ultimately involve an inspection of a facility to determine if there are any hazards to the water system. Many facilities, especially ones with high hazards, have already been inspected and appropriate backflow protection has been installed. The City maintains records of all these devices, and continues to track the testing and maintenance that is needed or required. The following links contain further information regarding the backflow program.


The Procedure

  1. For each property, an Annual Reminder is sent out one month before the test is due. This gives the owner the entire month that the test is due, plus the month before and the month after, to complete the test. 

  2. Two months after due date, a Final Notice is sent out. The owner now has 30 days to complete the test. 

  3. Approximately 30 days after the Final Notice is sent, all overdue properties are re-evaluated. 

  4. If the overdue test is a fire sprinkler system backflow device: 

    1. A citation case is created for the property. 
    2. The property owner is verified again. 
    3. A citation is filled out and sent by certified mail. 
    4. The citation is not filed and there is an additional few days to test the device. 
    5. If the test is completed, the citation is discarded. There is no fine or other costs levied against the owner (First time violators only).

If the overdue test is for a backflow device on the potable water system (containment, boiler, etc.):

  1. The property owner and account holder are verified (if different). 
  2. Water shutoff is scheduled for one week. The time and date are verified with the Water Division Service, which schedules personnel to do the shutoff.
  3. The Backflow Coordinator mails a water discontinuation notice to the owner and/or the account holder.
  4. The Backflow Coordinator posts the same notice at the property. 
  5. If the Backflow Coordinator receives the test report before the scheduled water shutoff, the shutoff is cancelled.

The next backflow test is due from the original expiration date, NOT when the device was tested. This keeps the date of testing consistent from year to year.

The entire process allows the owner or account holder a total of 4 months to complete the test of the backflow device. This process also does not include any additional fees, other than the cost of the test itself, for any first time offender.

At any time, a citation can be issued for overdue testing. If the citation is filed in Johnson County Court, fines will be imposed against the owner or account holder. This level of enforcement is reserved for repeat offenders only.

If you have any questions regarding the backflow program, please call Willy Goodale at 319-356-5126.