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Re: The Latest on the Backflow Prevention
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I have included below the email that we sent yesterday based on information that we were able to put together. Hopefully it helps some of you who reached out to us for more clarity.

We sent the below email only to the people who asked me to keep them posted on information on this subject. If you would like to be added please send an email to my office and we will gladly include you for any future notifications

-----
Backflow preventer update 5/25/09

My office has received a number of emails that there is still much confusion over the issue backflow preventers. Several people have said they have reached out to the City administration, but either got no reply to their messages or are still confused. So my office has reached out to the Office of Construction Code (OCC) concerning the many letters your condo association has received pertaining to the need to register your backflow preventer and have it tested. I would like to share with you what the OCC advised us were the right steps to take in reporting to them by August 1, 2009.

I have set up simple steps to follow and hope that this will clarify everything. By working through steps 1-3 (or 4) you will be in compliance with the letter sent to you by the Office of Construction Code.

There may be further action asked of you after this. If this is the case and things are still not transparent, please reach out to my office again and I will help you interface with the governmental bodies involved by setting up another community meeting.

Sincerely,

Steven M. Fulop
Jersey City Councilman, Ward “E”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
As per conversations with the Office of Construction Code and the Municipal Utilities Authority:

The letter you received from the Office of Construction Code (OCC) only gives instructions on how to report to the OCC by AUGUST 1, 2009 whether you have a testable or non-testable backflow preventer. Since this was not clear in the original letter, I asked that the deadline be extended from May 1, 2009 for another 90 days making the new deadline August 1, 2009.

Note: This only applies to residential fire suppression systems or industrial properties. If you are a residential building without a fire suppression system, but have received this notice, please contact Joe Mazzone at the Office of Construction Code immediately at (201) 547-5055/5068 or jmazzone@jcnj.org to let them know and they will remove you from the list of properties required to register.

Step 1: (OPTIONAL) Contact the MUA (Municipal Utilities Authority) at (201) 432-1150 and make an appointment for one of their inspectors to come out to your building. This is a free of charge service being offered by the MUA to give you the background and tell you what you need to install, if anything. This is an optional service being offered by the MUA to give you extra knowledge in the whole compliance process that your certified inspector might not know if they aren’t familiar with Jersey City.

Step 2: Contact a certified backflow inspector. Here is a list to choose from http://www.newwa.org/PDF/BF%20NJ%20Testers%20List%20Feb%2009.pdf. There are five on this list that are located right in Jersey City. You (or condo board in the case of condominiums) will pay a fee for an inspector to come out and inspect your backflow preventer.

*****Whether testable or not, you must hand in your completed form along with your notice of violation and documentation from the inspector by August 1, 2009.

Step 3: If the backflow preventer is testable, the inspector will test the device and hand you a document so stating. It is then your responsibility to mail this document and the filled out form you find here: http://www.jcmua.com/PDF%27s/backflow_test_form.pdf along with the letter of violation to:

Joe Mazzone, Plumbing Subcode Official
30 Montgomery Street
Room 412 (Main Office)
Jersey City, NJ 07302

Note: If your backflow preventer is testable and has passed inspection then after the OCC receives your letter with the registration fee, you are only responsible for maintaining the system by having it tested annually.

Step 4: IF your backflow preventer is NOT TESTABLE, then you will receive a document from the certified inspector so stating. It is then your responsibility to mail this document and the filled out form you find here: http://www.jcmua.com/PDF%27s/backflow_test_form.pdf along with the letter of violation to:

Joe Mazzone, Plumbing Subcode Official
30 Montgomery Street
Room 412 (Main Office)
Jersey City, NJ 07302

The OCC will abate the violation, and then send the information to Jersey City Water Division to the attention of city engineer, Tony Lombardi . At that time Mr. Lombardi will notify the owner and take it from there.

Posted on: 2009/5/26 18:49
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Re: The Latest on the Backflow Prevention
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Has anyone had good or bad experiences with various companies getting this backflow preventer installed and/or certified as "testable"?

Over the weekend we got an email from Councilman Fulop shedding at least a little more light on the whole thing. I imagine they'll be posting it here soon, but in the meantime at least, it included a list of certified inspectors (there are 5 right in JC - don't know if they also do installations).

Posted on: 2009/5/26 11:24
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Re: The Latest on the Backflow Prevention
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Quote:
only "fire prevention companies" are certified to do this work, per state law.


Our management had spoken with Pruzansky Plumbing, who was willing to do the work (maybe they're certified, I don't know).

But at $2-3K per unit, that is a rough one right now.

Posted on: 2009/5/13 22:27
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Re: The Latest on the Backflow Prevention
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Our 10-unit building received this letter last November. Our building also has a check valve and sprinkler system, but a MUA inspector said this was not up to code. Apparently, the Office of Construction Code sends out the letters and enforces the code, but the inspectors come from the MUA. Our building has no blueprints of the system, so there was no way to verify whether this system was approved when it was first installed.

We had two northern NJ fire prevention companies examine our system (Metro Fire and Associated Fire Protection). The initial tests of the sprinkler system plus getting an engineer to document and design the plans was quoted around $4000-$5000. After this, the plans are submitted to the Office of Construction Code for approval. At that point, then we find out the total cost of the work. A local condo building had to install a complete system, and that was estimated at $30,000.

We found out that only "fire prevention companies" are certified to do this work, per state law. Not all plumbers are certified to do this work (because of the additional fees and paperwork involved in obtaining certification).

Unfortunately, this work is now stalled, because we couldn't muster enough votes from all the unit owners to approve the work.

Posted on: 2009/5/13 21:40
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Re: The Latest on the Backflow Prevention
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Received same letter. Had a plumber in who advised us that we had a check on the sprinkler line. Need to bring Office of Construction Code in to tell us whether this is acceptable.
Unfortunately, our plumber told us he was not licensed to work with sprinkler systems. Who might you be using?

Posted on: 2009/5/13 16:28
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The Latest on the Backflow Prevention
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Just curious how folks are managing with the latest letter from the city on the backflow issue... (did everyone even get a letter?) What are the next steps, finding an (ahem) honest plumber to go by the actual state code, or having the city prescribe the hardware needed? (some types of preventers are a lot more expensive than others)

The 90 day clock is running -and we now have a plumber quoting $10-20K for an 8 unit building depending on what the city tells us to do. Ouch.

Posted on: 2009/5/13 15:40
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City says 1,700 homeowners must install pricey device- prevents contamination from sprinkler systems
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Are residents getting ‘soaked’?
City says 1,700 homeowners must install pricey devices

by Ricardo Kaulessar
Reporter Staff Writer

BACKLASH – A backflow preventer is a device to protect drinking water from contamination. The Jersey City Office of the Construction Official has sent out 1,700 letters to residents and businesses telling them that a city plumbing inspector will soon inspect their building to see if it has the proper device installed. Photo by Watts Regulator Company.


The city’s decision to suddenly start enforcing a building code policy that has been ignored for 10 years – requiring water backflow preventer devices in certain condos and buildings – has caused a backlash from property owners.

The property owners say they now face extensive new re-piping work, and are getting expensive quotes from plumbers.

A backflow preventer is a device that protects drinking water from contamination by stagnant water in sprinkler system lines. The device must be installed in accordance with plumbing or building codes.

Sine last fall, Jersey City’s Office of the Construction Official has sent out over 1,700 letters to condo owners, owners of multi-unit residential buildings, and owners of industrial and corporate businesses, telling them that a city plumbing inspector will soon inspect their building to see if it has a backflow prevention device installed.

The letter states, “The consumer, at his/her own expense, shall install, operate, test and maintain approved backflow prevention assemblies as directed by the authority having jurisdiction.”

Condo owners say they have found themselves looking at expenses upwards of $30,000 to install not just a backflow preventer, but also an entire new piping system to enable access to the device for future testing and inspection.

Anyone not in compliance could face a $2,000 weekly fine.

Murky waters

After City Councilman Steve Fulop received numerous e-mails and calls to his office about the issue, he set up a meeting on March 30 at City Hall. He, along with representatives from the city’s Construction Office and the Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority, listened to the concerns of those who received the letters.

Thanks to the meeting, new letters will be sent out in the next two weeks, describing exactly what property owners need to do to have backflow preventer devices installed.

After the letters are sent out, there will be 90-day period to allow them to comply and to prepare for any costs they will incur. A further study of the issue is also planned.

“I could appreciate [that the city wants] to enforce,” Fulop said recently in an interview, “but all of a sudden, one day, you just say ‘We want to do this’...that’s not a good job on the city’s part.”

Fulop said that he learned that the city should have been enforcing the law, set by the state, over the past 10 years. Instead, Fulop said, the city granted Certificates of Occupancy for residential buildings without making sure that the buildings had the proper backflow preventer devices.

Fulop’s claims were backed up by a city employee connected to the Construction Office (who wanted to remain unnamed) while speaking to the Jersey City Reporter.

Residents fearful

One resident, a condo owner on Bright Street in downtown Jersey City, said in an e-mail to the newspaper that she needs more clarification on this issue. She also wants to know why the city wants residents to use the plumbers that were “recommended” in the city’s letter.

The resident said that based on notes she took at the March 30 meeting and in speaking to other residents, those plumbers have offered installation estimates ranging from $1,000 to $20,000.
_____________

“When we suggested that the city/JCMUA participate in cost sharing with the condo associations, that idea was dismissed.” – A downtown Jersey City resident
________

The same resident also said that her neighbors’ suggestions at the March 30 meeting were dismissed.

“When we suggested grandfathering in certain condos, because the city has decided to enforce a code that has been on the books for more than 10 years, that idea was dismissed,” the resident said. “When we suggested that the city/JCMUA participate in cost sharing with the condo associations, that idea, too, was dismissed.”

Aaron Morrill, who lives with his wife in downtown Jersey City in an eight-unit condo building, said the residents in the building have no problem with compliance but want the city to understand their economic plight.

“The plumber that came here said we would have to pay $11,000 for not only installing the device but also for the labor in putting in the device, and other costs,” Morrill said. “That’s an extra cost that each unit in my building would have to bear, especially in these economic times.”

Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at rkaulessar@hudsonrreporter.com.

Posted on: 2009/4/19 17:33
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Re: BackFlow Preventor installation policy from JC Office of the Construction Official?
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About once a month for whatever reason our "potable" water goes to mud because United Water (or Suez or whoever) is flushing pipes, opening valvels to reroute water, opening hydrants to fight fires or just to give us some yummy Passaic River water. Funny after all these many decades of this regualar lack of potability, the issue of the contribution of a small backflow of water from someone's sprinkler system gets the URGENT front burner treatment.

To my mind, the damage to potability is close to ZERO when compared to the "normal" operations of the water department.

So how does water standing in a pipe in a sprinkler system that is almost never deployed become so terribly contaminated anyhow? Does it get a bit rusty? God forbid a bit of iron oxide or zinc oxide (both minerals often found in vitamin supplements) compete with the normal flow of muddy sediment that the water department and City consider "normal."

This is a ripoff plain and simple. All we need find out is who has paid off whom to ram this down our throats...and then perhaps prosecute.


Steve,
who proposed this regulation, or is it a state secret?

Posted on: 2009/4/18 13:04
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Re: BackFlow Preventor installation policy from JC Office of the Construction Official?
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This is the e-mail I got from Steve Fulop:

I am sending out this update to let you know I understand what a scary and stressful situation it is to have received a letter with very little information and a threat of a fine if you don’t comply by May 1st. This email should put you more at ease as we are still working through the situation and I cannot supply you with a definitive answer and action plan just yet. I was hoping for a resolution last week so that I could update you on this matter in a timely manner. Unfortunately the Office of Construction Code and the MUA (Municipal Utilities Authority) are still hammering out the details. I spoke with both offices yesterday and will continue to press them to finish up as soon as possible while also taking care of all of your concerns. Off the bat, to lay you mind at ease for the near term, you will have at the very least a 60 day extension. So the May 1st deadline letter no longer applies. In addition, at the last council meeting, I briefed the rest of my council colleagues on this issue so they are more aware of the situation. In their presence I asked the administration to get actively involved to ensure this situation is corrected immediately. What you should know: - There will be an extension extended between 60-90 days. We are pushing for 90 and I will have the answer early this coming week. - The letter, that was to explain in greater detail the situation to be corrected, did not go out last week as it is still being fleshed out between city officials. I am in the loop and will make sure many of the concerns that were addressed at our meeting are included, such as the clearly stating the requirements and citing the state law on the standards to be applied. - The standard should be plainly outlined this week. While I recognize the importance of safety with regards to potable water, there is no good reason not to apply the safety standard with fairness. I feel the requirements the MUA is asking for exceeds the safety issues and cause an undue financial burden. - I sincerely feel that it is unacceptable that the city would provide a list of 6 people to inspect your residences who have a vested interest in telling you that you need the most expensive backflow preventer. I asked at the last council meeting that the City contract with a firm to do these inspections at a set and fair fee. This way it is a neutral party that can certify whether the backflow preventer is in place. The council and administration seemed favorable to this idea as it is fair and reasonable. - Finally there is a high probability that your building already has backflow preventer that meets the standard and addresses the safety concerns. Once the update letter is sent to you from the MUA, I will follow up with a second meeting with MUA and Office of construction code officials. This meeting will be to update, clearly outline the requirements, and address any additional concerns. If you know anyone else affected by this situation that would like to be kept updated by email, please have them reach out to my office at (201) 547-5315 or fulops@jcnj.org. In addition, please pass on this information to anyone that might not have access to email. Sincerely, Steve

Posted on: 2009/4/16 12:43
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Re: BackFlow Preventor installation policy from JC Office of the Construction Official?
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Are there any updates on this issue?

It seems there is a lot of confusion as to what is required.

Can any plumber do this work?

Any firsthand reports?

Thanks!

Posted on: 2009/4/16 12:06
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Re: BackFlow Preventor installation policy from JC Office of the Construction Official?
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Not sure if everyone else got this letter from Steve Fulop so I figured I'd post it for anyone interested in writing to the newspaper:

Just to let you know, the Hudson Reporter will run a story on the backflow preveter issue and the more background they get the better so that we will get some attention to this issue and get it resolved. Ricardo is the journalist writing the article and he can be reached at hacksmith1872@gmail.com.

Posted on: 2009/4/15 13:41
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Re: BackFlow Preventor installation policy from JC Office of the Construction Official?
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I'm all for it. Let's sue the bastards.

Posted on: 2009/4/8 11:11
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Re: BackFlow Preventor installation policy from JC Office of the Construction Official?
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As owners in jersey city we have also received notice about backflow preventors and have received quotes of 30 to 40K to get to code, and by May first.
We are outraged that in these economic times we are now being required to comply asap , as this law/ruling has been on the books for many years.
Would anyone be interested in joining a class action suit against
this ruling? We as tax payers have rights. I'm all for keeping our water safe but we cannot afford to pay 2000 a week in fines as well. Maybe Mayor Healy or his reps would like to comment.

Posted on: 2009/4/7 20:56
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Re: BackFlow Preventor installation policy from JC Office of the Construction Official?
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Wondering if any info has been posted as the city promised (yeah right). Also wondering...what are the dates of the 60-day moratorium?

Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Posted on: 2009/4/5 10:50
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Re: BackFlow Preventor installation policy from JC Office of the Construction Official?
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There were about 60 people at the back flow preventer information session on Monday March 30, 2009. This tells us there is a much stronger need for communication and information on what needs to get done.

Councilman Fulop is working hard with the MUA and Construction Code division to get people anwsers and the help they need in coming into complicance with this safety regulation.

Our office has the many email address of those who sought out our help and signed in at Monday's meeting. If you would like to be kept updated and were not able to attend the meeting, please feel free to reach out to our office fulops@jcnj.org or 201-547-5315 and we will add you to the email list.

Sincerely,

Althea Bernheim
Aide to Councilman Steven Fulop
Council office Ward "E"
The City of Jersey City

Posted on: 2009/4/2 14:05
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Re: BackFlow Preventor installation policy from JC Office of the Construction Official?
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Thank you for the info...

Posted on: 2009/3/31 21:53
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Re: BackFlow Preventor installation policy from JC Office of the Construction Official?
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The 1,750 people who received letters regarding the installation of the back-flow preventers were given a 60 day moratorium. The city sent out the letters prior to deciding what it is they were actually requiring of us. Supposedly, they are going to come up with certain criteria to set the price for the updates and send out city officials to every unit to make sure they receive a fair quote. Most people who attended the meeting were residents in 6 to 8 unit buildings. (There were MANY complaints about the plumbers' quoting high prices for jobs that were not required by the city.) Either way, the requirements will be posted on the JC govmnts site within a week.

What I still would love to know is the criteria that was set for these letters. The fact that there are many outdated units in JC is understandable. I was baffled however by the over-representation of middle class looking attendees at this meeting. Just curious if "Santos y Ana" or the shoe repair guy on Jersey received the same memo? Somehow I doubt it.

Posted on: 2009/3/30 22:06
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Re: BackFlow Preventor installation policy from JC Office of the Construction Official?
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I just found this and it looks like the meeting begins in 5 minutes or so. Could someone please post whatever information he or she can after the meeting...it would be greatly appreciated.

thks

Posted on: 2009/3/30 18:23
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Re: REMINDER: Backflow Preventer Information Session 3/30/09
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For those of us that cannot attend can someone ask if the details can be posted on the www.cityofjerseycity.com website.

thanks

Posted on: 2009/3/30 14:11
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Re: REMINDER: Backflow Preventer Information Session 3/30/09
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This is just remind anyone interested, there will be an information seesion set up by Councilman Fulop with the MUA and Construction Code office both attending to answer questions and explain the backflow preventer policy in detail.

NOTE: there has been a change in location

Date: March 30, 2009
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Place: City Hall Law conference room, room 322 (3rd floor of City Hall)

Please email Councilman Steven Fulop at fulops@jcnj.org should you have any specific questions you would like him to pass on before the meeting to those two departments

For those who cannot make it, we are going to have the Construction Code office provide us with the contact information for one of their officials.

Sincerely,

Althea Bernheim
Council Aide
Ward 'E'

Posted on: 2009/3/30 12:06
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Re: REMINDER: Backflow Preventer Information Session 3/30/09
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Glad I found this thread. Our building received the letter. I've literally spent months just trying to figure out what it means and what to do about it. No information or replies from the Plumbing Code office. It appears the only plumbers who know all the details are the ones on the referral list supplied by the Plumbing Code office, for whatever that's worth. I have the list and am working with one of the guys on it; who has told me that our building does not have the BFP and will need to install it.

Questions:
1. I have been notified that there will be fines if this is not installed, tested, registered by May 1. Does anyone know if the city will grant an extension in a case where there is no BFP and one needs to be installed? It sounds like a process that could take months.

2. I know that we have, and have seen, a 4 inch "check valve" in line with the fire sprinkler system. Isn't that valve the one that prevents "back siphonage" already? Why do we need another kind of valve?

Posted on: 2009/3/27 21:32
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Re: REMINDER: Backflow Preventer Information Session 3/30/09
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I heard a rumor that if Healy gets re elected hes going to create 3000 plumbing jobs in JC by making sprinklers mandatory all buildings....

Posted on: 2009/3/26 21:15
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Re: REMINDER: Backflow Preventer Information Session 3/30/09
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Thank, Althea & Steve, for setting this up.

Would you happen to know which office/dept sent out that letter? I'd much prefer to contact them to see whether or not a letter was sent to us, and more importantly, if we are required to make these changes.



Quote:

Althea wrote:
Our office doesn't have a copy of the letter, but perhaps someone who received it wouldn't mind sharing.

Councilman Fulop decided to bring all the parties into the same room so there isn't the frustration of mixed messages or figuring out who to hunt down to get information. This should also cut down on the time the City employees have to individually explain the policy.

However, this will be a learning experience for our office as well as this seems to be a very complex issue and each building receiving the letter has different issues.

Your building probably is up to code if you guys did not receive a letter. Not all buildings are receiving this letter.

Althea

Posted on: 2009/3/26 19:54
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Re: BackFlow Preventor installation policy from JC Office of the Construction Official?
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Althea: If my building - an old 4-unit brownstone - doesn't have a sprinkler system, am I safe in assuming we won't be required to install sprinklers and, therefore, don't have to worry about this backflow issue? We passed inspection 5 years ago when the building was converted to condo, so if sprinklers had been required, they would've brought it up at the time, right?

Posted on: 2009/3/26 19:52
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Re: BackFlow Preventor installation policy from JC Office of the Construction Official?
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Okay,
I asked a question and I got a 2 word explanation: BACK SIPHONAGE.

Yes, I know what back siphonage IS but now would someone tell me how it would occur. It seems that common sense plumbing of the last 100 years (or 1000 years) is designed to prevent it.
My sink faucet is high above the upper possible water level. So is my shower, so is my toilet and so is my bathtub. If I had a washer there would be a break betweeen inflow and wastewater. THey are all designed this way to prevent "back siphonage."

So how does this "back siphonage" occur to get dirty water into the clean potable system?

A SECOND prevention for back siphonage is mandatory vent stacking.

Can someone show me an instance where backflow of wastewater into potable would necessitate a break valve?

THe only sensible use of backflow valves I know of is outdoors in FLOOD areas with common sewers and flood drains where the valves stop floodwaters from entering houses.

What am I missing here...where does this "back siphoning" occur?" Are we talking about a 100 year flood here?

Posted on: 2009/3/26 19:03
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Re: REMINDER: Backflow Preventer Information Session 3/30/09
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Our office doesn't have a copy of the letter, but perhaps someone who received it wouldn't mind sharing.

Councilman Fulop decided to bring all the parties into the same room so there isn't the frustration of mixed messages or figuring out who to hunt down to get information. This should also cut down on the time the City employees have to individually explain the policy.

However, this will be a learning experience for our office as well as this seems to be a very complex issue and each building receiving the letter has different issues.

Your building probably is up to code if you guys did not receive a letter. Not all buildings are receiving this letter.

Althea

Posted on: 2009/3/26 18:45
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Re: REMINDER: Backflow Preventer Information Session 3/30/09
#39
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Althea/Councilman Fulop:

Would you please post the text or a scan of the letter about this program/requirement? Our condo association never received this letter.

Also, for those of us who won't be able to attend the info session on Monday night, please post the info here.

TIA.

Posted on: 2009/3/26 16:18
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REMINDER: Backflow Preventer Information Session 3/30/09
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This is just remind anyone interested, there will be an information seesion set up by Councilman Fulop with the MUA and Construction office both attending to answer questions and explain the backflow preventer policy in detail.

NOTE: there has been a change in location

Date: March 30, 2009
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Place: City Hall Law conference room (3rd floor of City Hall)

Please email Councilman Steven Fulop at fulops@jcnj.org should you have any specific questions you would like him to pass on before the meeting to those two departments

Sincerely,

Althea Bernheim
Council Aide
Ward 'E'

Posted on: 2009/3/26 14:16
soshin: Mention guns and bd pops up through a hole in the ground like a heavily armed meercat
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Re: BackFlow Preventor installation policy from JC Office of the Construction Official?
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Thank you Councilman Fulop for hosting this meeting. Hopefully we can get our questions answered and figure out what exactly is going on with this mandate. The city has got to realize that this policy will cost some homeowners around $30,000. How can they expect people to afford this in our current economy? I hope others will join me at the meeting to voice our various concerns.

Posted on: 2009/3/15 22:22
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Re: BackFlow Preventor installation policy from JC Office of the Construction Official?
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This is pretty much a way for the city to make money every year.
While it would be important to make sure new Hi Rise buildings with their high pressure water needs are not contaiminating the water supply. Small buildings are not going to hurt our water quality.

City gets 75.00 a pop per building.Do the math,good one million in revenue a year.

Posted on: 2009/3/15 20:51
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