Utility Activation for Commercial Sites


Water Activation for a commercial site involves a series of steps and coordination between developer, contractor and the City. On a typical site, three City departments inspect and have separate requirements to satisfy all prior to issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy.

Right-of-Way (R / W)

  • Department of Development and Permits, Development Construction
  • Department of Public Utilities (DPU)

The Commercial Water Installation addresses a new commercial subdivision. All inspections in the right-of-way are performed by Development Construction.

  1. The Subdivision and/or Final Site Plan with meter calculations are submitted to Development Engineering.
  2. Once the Development Plans are approved, the Utility Activation Package is sent to the developer.
  3. Utility activation steps

Water Meter Easement

  • Development Construction
  • Department of Public Utilities (DPU)
  • Maintenance and Operations (M&O)

Once construction within the easement commences, it is the responsibility of the contractor to request inspections and pay for large meters (2 inches or greater) and domestic small meters (smaller than 2 inches) to DPU. Activation and setting of meter only occurs once DPU receives all items listed in Utility Activation Package.

  1. Any improvements made within the water meter easement are covered by the R/W permit.
  2. When the Connection Fees are paid at DPU, they include payment for small water meters. Large meters are to be provided by the developer and delivered to M&O's meter shop. Note: Meter Shop will not accept meters unless all connection fees are paid.
  3. Meter vault size and details are dependent on the water meter size and determined during plan review. Refer to PFM standards for requirements:
    • Small meters
    • Large meters
      • WMV-2 (PDF), used for meter size 3 to 8 inches
      • WD-11, concrete vault size to meter size requirements
      • 2 inch meters and larger will require specific details and dimensions that are not fully illustrated in WD-11 or WMV-2, and require plan approval before construction
  4. Water main and service line requirements and installation specifications can be found in the PFM.
  5. During meter vault, service line, and piping installation, Development Construction is notified, and inspects vault piping against the details reflected on the development plan, and PFM Vol. II, City Standards.
  6. Final pressure tests are performed on all lines within easement.
  7. Upon completion of pressure test, the developer submits the as-builts to the Development and Permits, Development Construction. (As-builts are normally not required for water meters <2")
  8. Following backflow device installation, DPU Engineering is notified, and M&O's RPZ Cross Connection inspector checks for installed RPZ to match specified plans, and manufacturing specifications.
  9. Backflow Preventers (RPZs) are inspected by the Cross Connection Inspector:
    • Small Meters
      • Chlorination of water meter easement piping.
      • RPZ installed, then inspected by Cross Connection Inspector.
      • Meter is set by M&O.
      • Contractor has 48 hours to perform RPZ test.
    • Large Meters
      • Chlorination of water meter easement piping.
      • The Cross Connection Inspector checks to make sure that the correct backflow device is installed and the installation meets with the manufacturer's recommendations. (Inside building riser room, or on water meter easement).
      • Water line is turned on by city forces so that the backflow test can be made. The test report must be sent to DPU Engineering. (This test is performed by a certified tester hired by the contractor).
      • Bacteriological Tests are required if RPZ is located in the building. Contact DPU Engineering for application. Statement of Completion is also required.
      • Meter is set by M&O.
  10. Chlorination and sampling points are identified by Development Construction inspector and then administered by the Contractor per Flushing and Disinfection Policy (PDF).
  11. After the final inspection and all meters are set, Development Construction issues Statement of Completion (PDF) to DPU, DEQ and VDH.
  12. Meter is activated.

Private On-Site Utilities

Development & Permits

The water facilities segment that concerns Plumbing Division is seen as the domestic large to small (small: less than 2 inches, large: greater than 2 inches) water main. The main connects to the back of the backflow prevention device and ends at a 5-foot stand-off from the building. Domestic water main greater than 2 inches do not follow the permits and inspections process. Water lines of these sizes are inspected and tested by 3rd party inspections normally private engineers.

  1. Plumbing requires a Statement of Completion for the work on site. This includes all domestic water main installation done against correct codes and procedures.
  2. Bacteriological tests for on-site domestic water main is also to be performed and documentation to be turned into Plumbing Division along with the Statement of Completion (PDF).

These two items are necessary for final water activation outlined in the previous easement section. If the domestic water services are less than or equal to the above stated and installed in accordance with International Plumbing Code (IPC), then an application for permit is required.

Fire Prevention (FP)

The water facilities that concern FP is the large underground fire main from the back of a large water meter all the way to a 5-foot stub-out from the building. Also of concern are the Fire Hydrants (FHs), Fire Department Connections (FDCs), Dry Hydrants, and PIVs (Post Indicator Valve). These facilities are not inspected in any rigorous manner by FP but rather the tests are witnessed and the appropriate documentation furnished, this is referred to as acceptance testing.

  1. As with all other site plans brought to the City from an engineering service, they are reviewed by each department and checked against codes, and city PFM standards. In the case of fire prevention, a copy of the site plan is reviewed against the NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency), IFC (International Fire Code), SFPC (State Fire Prevention Code), and of course the City's PFM.
  2. Review of the site plan which includes the specified water main is done so to check for needed water demand in the occurrence of a fire. Normally the reviewer is checking the given calculations to make sure that the main can supply both the indoor water suppression system and the pull from the FH's simultaneously. These calculations are checked from the IFC table B105.1 in determination of the type of building and the given fire area from which the total demand is multiplied by a particular percentage for the sprinkler system then added back to the specified demand for a final total. In short, this is to make sure the given size fire main is adequate for the water demand.
  3. FH and FDC distances are checked in reference to the building. This is to make sure that the maximum distance of the fire hoses (400 feet) can access any part of the building, and that there are no obstructions to the hose paths.
  4. Various other requirements outlined by the PFM and respectful code requirements are used in the review of the plan. These comments, and notes made on the plan are then given to the Department of Development and Permits, Development Construction Division within a respectful time frame. 
  5. As is for all installed facilities an application for permit is required for the above-mentioned and can be found at the following link:
  6. Since the city isn't able to inspect large water mains including the underground fire main, FP requires an Underground Flow Certificate. The Certificate's purpose is to make sure the main withstands a particular hydrostatic pressure for a given period of time, and that the line is flushed of debris consistent with code. Acceptance testing is not required for all facilities from a private large meter to a 5-foot stub-out.
  7. FHs have many design and installation requirements. One of the major requirements for commercial private FHs is that the minimum allowed flow to be 1000 gallons per minute (gpm) at a static pressure of 20 pound-force per square inch (psi). Another requirement is the coloring of the fire hydrants, and normally the other colors that are lower than 1000 gpm are either for existing hydrants or public hydrants. The fire hydrants do not require acceptance testing but do require 3rd party testing and inspection documentation sent to FP upon completion. FH color codes can be seen in the PFM under SFPC Section 508 - Fire Protection Water Supplies e1.1 (PDF)
  8. FDCs: used to supplement water into the building, and have their own design and installation requirements. Some of these requirements outlined within the PFM are installation against NFPA 24 standards, location to be 40 feet from the building, access to FDCs have no obstruction, and inspection and maintenance is in accordance with NFPA 25. More details can be seen within the PFM under SFPC Section 912 - Fire Department Connections (FDCs) (PDF)
  9. Also, commercial dry hydrants need acceptance testing, and they are used as an alternative water source if at any point the current water source becomes insufficient during the fire. Either the contractor's sump pump or fire engine is used to make sure the connection supplies the necessary flow to be pumped from the pond.
  10. The above-mentioned can be waived from acceptance testing if a 3rd party Engineering inspection is requested. This is only possible with approval by the Fire Code Official, and that the correct documentation is furnished and inspections are done by code.


Development & Permits

Development and Permits jurisdictions include all domestic water plumbing lines within 5 feet from and inside building, and exclude all Fire Prevention systems. Fire Prevention systems within the building are inspected forthright by the Fire Prevention Bureau.

In order to receive a permit for commercial or residential plumbing within a building, a permit application is needed prior to construction. Once one acquires the application depending on how it is filled out determines the type of permit and what will be inspected by a plumbing inspector. Drawings and calculations Also to be attached are the appropriate drawings and calculations if needed.

Plumbing Inspection Process

Each of the following steps proceed once the inspection has taken place and has passed. Also pertinent, all inspections visual and otherwise are strictly checked per the International Plumbing Code (IPC).

  1. Domestic plumbing 5 feet from building and into building below slab grade is first inspected before the building is constructed.
    1. Once slab grade is poured it is checked for the appropriate grade.
  2. Then into the building a Plumbing rough-in inspection takes place. When piping is roughed in it pertains to exposed piping within the walls and various other points within the building.
    1. Pressure test is incurred within the rough-in stage and again these tests are checked to comply with the IPC.
    2. This stage would require the inspector to observe a pressure gauge that would have to maintain a certain tolerance pressure within a time constraint. These gauge tests vary depending on the type of pipe and system.
  3. Final inspection of plumbing services then takes place once inspector is notified. Again everything is checked in accordance to the IPC.
    1. A final pressure test for all piping takes place, and it is checked visually for leaks
    2. Measurements and clearances for final piping is also checked.

Fire Prevention

The facilities of concern to FP inside the building are numerous. Although this document outlines the water suppression systems (sprinkler, stand pipe systems) that are mandatory for commercial buildings, there are various other items that concern FP. A few of these items of importance is the fire alarm, building access, paint markings, emergency lighting, etc.:

  1. Unlike the site plan submitted to the city which contains numerous facilities to be checked against codes, the plans for the building normally just include the sprinkler system. Also included with the sprinkler plans are calculations and manufacturer's apparatus specifications.
  2. These plans are submitted to Fire Prevention and all permits for facilities, and items specified herein can be obtained through the Department of Development and Permits or can be filled out online.
  3. The sprinkler plans are checked for required fire flow per immediate fire area. The water flow rates and calculations are checked against the IFC given in appendix B and C. Once reviewed they are submitted back to Fire Prevention for pickup.
  4. The water systems from the 5-foot stub-out to inside the building are the systems that are inspected visually (hydro visually) and get acceptance testing from an FP inspector. The main pipe coming underground into the riser room is inspected before slab grade is poured. Once this is inspected the riser room would be constructed with the appropriate piping. This piping would get a hydro-visual and would be checked for 200 psi for 2 hours. Other inspection requirements for the 5-foot stub-out into the riser room can be seen in the Letter of Transmittal.
  5. As with the private on-site facilities an Above Ground Flow Certificate or Above Ground Piping procedure is required prior to acceptance testing. This certificate is used by the 3rd party to make sure that the installation was in accordance with code. Similar to the UG Flow Certificate, it makes mandatory all water suppression systems witnessed; maintain a minimum static pressure of 200 psi for 2 hours. Also similar, the piping is flushed to make sure it's clear of debris.
  6. Sprinkler systems for commercial buildings are required to be installed under NFPA codes, NFPA 13, NFPA 13R and NFPA 13D. When the systems are very extensive like a large commercial building they are installed in sections. After the installation of these sections it is required that the sectioned system be tested and again witnessed. If the building is of moderate size one complete The acceptance testing is again done by FP and a request for inspection must be made before the test occurs.
  7. Fire alarms are another very important part of the suppression system, and can be seen at the base of the riser room. They measure the flow into the building and once the flow is above a certain range, notifies a monitoring company that a fire is occurring.
  8. Fire alarms require a Record of Completion by FP prior to acceptance testing. This is done in riser room after the electrical wiring is installed. Also the tamper switches on the valves between the backflow prevention device in the riser room are inspected by FP with the alarm company present.
  9. As mentioned previously this document is strictly focused on water facilities but a large part of what FP does inside the building is focused on inspecting certain items in order for the building owner to be granted a CO (Certificate of Occupancy).
  10. FP serves as an advisory party for NS to check some of the items like fire extinguishers, marked exit signs, emergency lighting, labeled FDCs, and fire lanes. In brief, these items are just checked for code violations.
  11. Once FP does its final CO inspection and finds problems or infractions it will send the Department of Development and Permits a write-up of the details and violations it encountered throughout the inspection. The write-up also includes FP's recommendation for changes and improvements to the listed items. A temporary CO can be granted to the building owner while the corrections are being made, and FP will give a timeline for these corrections.