Backflow prevention program

All Queensland local governments are required under state legislation to maintain a program for the registration, maintenance and testing of testable backflow prevention devices installed in their area.

What is a backflow prevention device?

A backflow prevention device prevents the reverse flow of water from a potentially polluted source into the city's potable (drinking) water supply. Backflow prevention devices are usually fitted in the following circumstances:

  • an irrigation system connected to mains water supply
  • fire hose reels or hydrants
  • a commercial or industrial activity or machinery connected to the mains
  • water outlets in proximity to pollutants, grease traps or chemicals
  • an underground rainwater tank that has mains water backup.

Council's backflow prevention register

The information supplied to Council from the initial Form 9 test report submitted by the plumber is recorded in the Backflow Register.

Commencing January 2019, Council will issue an Annual Registration Fee Notice and Testing Reminder Notice at the beginning of the calendar year to the device owner, prompting them to arrange for the testing of their devices by 31 December. Subsequent reminders will be issued periodically during the year to device owners whose Form 9 test reports have not been received.

The annual registration fee per device is used to maintain the Backflow Prevention Program which involves managing the register, performing audits and investigations and for any correspondence that may need to be sent to owners.

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Device owner's responsibilities

The Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 requires owners of installed testable backflow prevention devices to:

  • register the device with the local government
  • have the device inspected or tested annually by a plumber endorsed for backflow testing.

To assist device owners, Council issues an Annual Testing Reminder Notice in January giving them until 31 December to engage a plumber endorsed for backflow testing and have their device(s) tested. A second round of reminder notices is issued mid-year to prompt device owners whose annual testing is usually scheduled later in the year. A final reminder notice is issued at the end of September for devices that have no test result recorded by Council.

An endorsed backflow tester can be found by searching for "backflow tester Brisbane" via the internet.

Endorsed backflow tester's responsibilities

The Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 requires the person testing the device to submit the Form 9 test report to the local government within 10 business days of the test.

Completed Form 9 test reports can be submitted by email.

New devices

The majority of new devices will be installed as part of a larger scope of plumbing works. When devices are shown on hydraulic drawings to be assessed by Council, the registration fee is charged at lodgement. The corresponding Form 9 test reports must be submitted prior to requesting the final inspection.

When devices are installed under the notifiable work category, it is the responsibility of the licensed plumbing contractor to submit a Form 4 to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission and submit the completed Form 9 test report and registration fee for each device to Council. Form 9 can be found on the Queensland Government website.

The registration fee is payable for all new devices.

Removing or replacing a device

When a device is removed or replaced, it is the responsibility of the licensed plumbing contractor to submit a Form 4 to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission and submit the completed Form 9 test report and registration fee for each device to Council. Form 9 can be found on the Queensland Government website. Council may audit device removals performed under a Form 4 to ensure the hazard requiring the device is no longer present.

Fees and charges

Table provides fees and charges for backflow prevention devices.
Fee type Fee
Annual registration fee $65.50 per device

Frequently asked questions

Read frequently asked questions relating to the backflow prevention program.

Backflow prevention device video

Watch the below video to find out more about backflow prevention devices and owner responsibilities.

Video transcript

Slide: Owner responsibilities for backflow prevention devices

Hi.  My name is Kate and I work at Brisbane City Council.  Over the past four years, we’ve been working hard to improve and streamline our processes to make it easier for customers. You're watching one of our many online training videos designed to help you find the information you need when you need it.  We hope this video will help make the development application process easier for you.

Slide:  What is backflow prevention?

Backflow refers to the potential contamination of drinking water when water from private properties enters the main water supply system. 

Backflow occurs when:

  • a change in water pressure due to events such as a burst water main or fire fighting operation causes water to flow backwards from a private property into the main water supply or
  •  a cross connection exists between pipes, for example if greywater pipes are connected to the drinking water system.

You may have a backflow prevention device fitted at your property if you have any of the following:

  • an irrigation system
  • fire hose reels or hydrants
  • a commercial or industrial activity or machinery connected to the water mains
  • water outlets in proximity to pollutants, grease traps or chemicals
  • an underground rainwater tank that has mains water supply backup.

Slide: Testing of backflow prevention devices

It is not enough to simply install backflow prevention devices. Testable backflow prevention devices such as reduced pressure zone devices, double check valves and some single check valves must be registered and maintained.

State Government legislation requires property owners who have an installed, testable backflow prevention device:

  • to annually register the device with the local government and
  • have the device tested by a person who is licensed to do the work at least once each year.

Licensed plumbers must have the appropriate endorsement on their licence for testing the devices. It is the responsibility of the plumber to submit to Council the test results, using the approved forms, within 10 business days of testing the device. Approved forms can be found on the Department of Housing and Public Works website.

Slide: Registration and Permits

Council has a responsibility to maintain a program to monitor the registration and testing of testable Backflow Prevention Devices installed in the Brisbane area.

Council uses the test results provided by licensed plumbers to update this register and to ensure devices are tested annually. Owners are charged an annual fee per device to maintain Council’s device registration program.

Failure to register a device and provide annual test results is an offence and may result in significant penalties.

Slide: New and replacement devices

New devices must be installed by a licensed plumber. In some circumstances, the plumber may be required to lodge a plumbing application with Council, which may require an inspection by a Council plumbing inspector. Talk to your plumber about whether a device needs to be inspected by Council prior to installation.

Plumbing applications can be submitted online via Councils website. On Council’s homepage, search for "plumbing services" to find more information.

If the device needs to be inspected by Council, the plumber must provide evidence that registration fees have been paid. A completed test certificate for each device, using the approved form, must also be provided.

The plumber you engage to replace or remove a faulty device is responsible for notifying both the Plumbing Industry Council and Brisbane City Council, using approved forms.

If you have any queries in relation to backflow prevention device permits for your property, contact the Plumbing Service Group on 3403 8888.

We hope this video has provided you with the information you need. If you need further help, have a look at some of our other training videos - or give us a call.

You can also watch this video on Council's YouTube channel.

More information

Find out more about plumbing and drainage by phoning Council on 07 3403 8888 for residential customers, or 133 BNE (133 263) for business customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Last updated:21 February 2020