The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP) has recently withdrawn a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document on the Division of Water Supply and Geoscience (DWSG) webpage related to physical connections between a commercial or industrial facility and a public water supply. This withdrawal has made significant changes to the number and type of facilities that are required to install and/or maintain backflow preventer devices and obtain and/or maintain physical connection permits.
The chief of the DWSG, Michael Bleicher, has recently confirmed that there will not be a new FAQ document produced and that facilities should refer to the specific requirements of N.J.A.C. 7:10-10 to determine if a physical connection permit is needed. N.J.A.C. 7:10-10.2(a) requires each facility with any connection between a public community water system and an unapproved water supply obtain a physical connection permit (this includes almost all connections in commercial and industrial buildings). The only exclusion from these requirements is for private residences.
If your facility is a commercial or industrial building containing any business other than private residences containing a domestic and/or fire connection requires a physical connection permit for its primary backflow preventers.
Many facilities in New Jersey have backflow preventers in place, as required by their local public water supplier, however many of these installations do not meet the current requirements of NJ DEP to obtain a physical connection permit as found in N.J.A.C 7:10-10.3 Approved physical connection installation requirements and 7:10-10.4 Installation. Many of these requirements are only “grandfathered” for facilities which have maintained a current physical connection permit initially issued prior to November 18,1996.
In order to obtain a Physical Connection permit from NJ DEP, the following requirements must be met by the installation of all of its primary backflow preventers:
· Located on the facility side of the water meter,
· Located more than twelve (12) inches above the ground surface,
· Located less than sixty (60) inches above the ground surface,
· Not be located below ground,
· Not be located in a vault or pit among other items.
Therefore, any facility with one or more primary backflow preventers with these characteristics cannot obtain a physical connection permit without replacement of the backflow preventer device. Costs to purchase and install a commercial or industrial device range from $1,000 to more than $30,000 in addition to the annual $150 Physical Connection Permit fee. Obviously the installation costs greatly exceed the annual permit fee and many facilities have multiple connections that may require a device.
Recently NJ DEP has begun enforcing its N.J.A.C. 7:10-10 rules more strictly and more frequently. Penalties for failure to maintain a physical connection permit are based upon the size of the water system and range from $500 to $5,000 per device.
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