Customers who want to "go green" in their water usage, need to realize that while a great idea, some of these "green" options do require the installation of backflow prevention devices to protect the public drinking water system.
Using Barrels to Collect Rainstorm Water
You can find out more about the City’s rain barrel program by following the link here.
The City of Palo Alto does NOT require a backflow device for rain barrels as long as they remain stand-alone devices and are not connected to your home’s plumbing or irrigation system. If you would like to incorporate your rain barrel(s) into a plumbed system, a backflow device WILL BE required on every incoming water service to the property.
Installing a Solar Water Heater
You can find out more about the City’s Solar Water Heating program by following the link here.
At this time, the City of Palo Alto does NOT require backflow devices for residential properties that do not contain any chemical additives and are considered "Once Through” systems---meaning a system where the water simply passes through the solar unit before going through the standard hot water heater.
Commercial properties and residential systems that contain chemical additive agents are required to install backflow devices on all incoming water services.
Installing a Gray Water (Recycled) System
At this time, the City of Palo Alto requires backflow prevention devices on all water services to any properties with gray water systems, except the systems commonly referred to as “Laundry to Landscape”. For recycled systems other than Laundry-to-Landscape, the high coliform content in gray water, simple Pressure Vacuum Breaker (PVB) or hose bib style protectors are not adequate protection – a Reduced Pressure (RP) assembly is required. However, Laundry-to-Landscape systems are not a problem in this regard and in fact, are a good way to reduce water use, especially during the current drought. In partnership with Palo Alto Utilities, the Santa Clara Valley Water District is offering $200 rebates for such systems--more details here.
For further information about backflow prevention devices in general or as they apply to the "green" measures above, contact the Cross Control Connection Office of the Utilities Department at (650) 496-5926.