Archive for August, 2013

Varsity Plumbing and Heating of Flushing, Queens on Backflow Prevention Devices: Are you in compliance?

As seen in the July 16, 2013 issue of New York Real Estate Journal:

By Bobby Bellini, President, Varsity Plumbing and Heating, Inc.

Back in 2010, New York City initiated a vigorous enforcement campaign to ensure that all buildings requiring Backflow Prevention Devices have them properly installed and operational. Since then, thousands of properties have begun the long and sometimes very costly process of meeting the City’s requirements. Many have successfully completed their installations and testing, and have received the stamp of approval from the City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), yet tens of thousands, and possibly as many as 100,000 buildings have yet to finish—or even start—meeting their compliance requirements.

Backflow preventers, which are designed to prevent contaminated water or chemicals from flowing back into the public drinking water system, are required in a vast number of NYC buildings. At the start of the enforcement campaign, the City began mailing out compliance letters to buildings, giving them 30 days to initiate the process of installation, which requires the services of a licensed professional engineer or registered architect. In a recent conversation with the DEP’s Cross-Connection Control Unit (CCCU), which oversees the Backflow Prevention Outreach Program, we were told that at this point, nearly three years into the enforcement campaign, the DEP is guessing that over 200,000 buildings will need some sort of backflow preventer to safeguard the city’s water supply, and only a fraction of those have been finished as we write this in June 2013.

Act Now, Don’t Wait

            CCCU inspectors are currently flagging each building that needs a backflow preventer, as they go about their business and see issues. Once a building is flagged, a 30-Day Notice will be generated and mailed out to the owner or manager. Whether you have begun the process at your building yet, whether you have received a 30-Day Notice from the City or not, all property owners and managers should be working on meeting the City’s backflow prevention requirements NOW. Once you’ve received a 30-Day Notice, your building MUST respond to the CCCU with a progress report within those 30 days, proving that you have secured the services of a Licensed Master Plumber (LMP), a Licensed Professional Engineer (PE) or a Registered Architect (RA) to begin the process of installation. We at Varsity have a complete turnkey system to help our clients handle this process, from Day One, with just one simple phone call to 877-VARSITY.

Avoid Surprises: Hire the Right Team

We have heard horror stories from managers who came to us after working with other contractors only to discover that their 30-Day Notices were never responded to and they were now facing violations. Or their engineer and plumber disagreed on what work had to get done and what it might cost. Our team of Licensed Engineers and Master Plumbers has seen thousands of properties since the DEP started the Backflow Prevention Outreach Program. We respond to your needs quickly and professionally, and tell you exactly what is needed to satisfy the CCCU and exactly how much it will cost.

Varsity’s fully licensed team includes an engineer and master plumber to do the analysis, file the plans, install and test the required devices and complete the follow-up paperwork, ensuring that all City codes and regulations are met. At Varsity we provide a one-call solution to this issue, from engineering to installation to compliance to DEP sign-off, simplifying a very complex process for building owners. If your building has already received a 30-Day Notice before you request a proposal from us, we will send out an immediate request for a 30-day compliance extension from DEP. Next, we prepare a specifications proposal based on your building’s needs and configuration. Once the proposal has been accepted by the building, our engineer sends a follow-up letter to the DEP explaining that his services have been retained, the process of compliance is under way, and requesting 90 days more to file the plans and applications. Once the plans are filed and approved by the DEP, the installation can be done. When the installation is complete, Varsity’s Licensed Master Plumber and Professional Engineer perform the required testing and inspection, and file the required reports with DEP and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), which oversees the entire Backflow Prevention program, for final approval. Once this process has been completed, your building is in full compliance with the State and City backflow prevention regulations.

Failure to Comply Can Be Costly

Failure to comply can lead to fines of up to $2,000 and, if ignored, the City can shut off the water supply to the building. According to the DEP, the cost of installation ranges from $3,000 for a one-story building to around $35,000 for high-rises. Buildings with more complicated situations, such as elevated building drains or roof tanks that will require more powerful pumps after backflow prevention devices are installed, can face even higher costs. Because Backflow Preventers cost thousands of dollars, don’t be forced to rush into paying more then you need to just to avoid or cure a DEP violation. By calling Varsity, you will know exactly how much the job will cost you, and can plan those figures into your budget. Then, when you get your 30-day letter, and are on the DEP time clock, you will be ready to start the job and be prepared to pay for it.

Hundreds of co-op and condo buildings, managers and owners have chosen  

Varsity Plumbing to handle their backflow prevention needs because they know we care about their properties, and that we honor our founding principles, established by my father, Bob Bellini, who founded Varsity way back in 1962: do a good job; charge a fair price; stand behind your work; and always keep your word.

For more information on hiring licensed professionals to be sure your building is in compliance, or to request as proposal, contact me, President of Varsity Plumbing, at (718) 358-5400 or email your request to To view our informational video, go to or scan the QR code below.

Scan the QR code to view our video on Backflow Prevention.

Scan the QR code to view our video on Backflow Prevention.

Bobby Bellini explains how a Backflow Preventer stops contaminants from flowing out of a building's water system and into the public drinking water supply.

Bobby Bellini explains how a Backflow Preventer stops contaminants from flowing out of a building’s water system and into the public drinking water supply.

Bobby Bellini, President of Varsity Plumbing and Heating, Inc.

50th anniversary