Prior to 2013, anyone who took an appropriate 40-hour course and passed the associated written and practical exams could be accredited to test and inspect backflow prevention assemblies (currently in Minnesota, only RPZ assemblies are required to be periodically tested and inspected). Minnesota licensed plumbers who underwent the same training and passed the exam could be accredited to test/inspect/install/repair/rebuild. This situation enabled RPZ accredited irrigation practitioners to do annual testing and inspection of landscape RPZ assemblies assigned to irrigation systems without the need to subcontract the services of a plumber, unless the tested backflow prevention assembly(ies) required repair or rebuilding.
The Minnesota Plumbing Board recently adopted rules that require new applicants for Minnesota Backflow Prevention Tester certification to first obtain an American Society of Sanitary Engineering (ASSE) Standard 5110 Backflow Prevention Assembly Tester certification. After obtaining the ASSE 5110 certification, applicants then apply for Minnesota certification, using the registration form at the bottom of the page at this link (http://www.doli.state.mn.us/ccld/PlumbingBackflow.asp
The ASSE 5110 certification requires ASSE-approved 40-hour training with practical and written exams; it also requires the applicant to “demonstrate five years of experience in a plumbing, pipefitting or related industry field”. MNLA was assured by the Plumbing Board that the irrigation industry should constitute a “related industry field” for backflow testers. The ASSE 5110 certification is for a three-year period, and recertification thereafter requires a three-hour review course with practical and written exam. See http://www.asse-plumbing.org/backflow/Excerpt-from-Guidelines.pdf
According to the new Minnesota rules, individuals who hold a current backflow prevention tester certification from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (MN DLI) dated prior to January 1, 2013 will be exempt from the need for ASSE 5110 certification to get their Minnesota certificate until renewals after January 1, 2015. You can check the MN DLI database (https://secure.doli.state.mn.us/lookup/licensing.aspx
) to ensure that you are currently certified. At the licensing webpage above, for “License Class”, choose “Personal”; for “Select a Discipline”, choose “Plumbing”; and for “Select a Classification”, choose “Backflow Prevention Tester”. For “number of items in a page”, choose “100”, then hit “Search” and scroll through the alphabetical list to find your name, get your certification number and find your expiration date.
Minnesota backflow prevention tester recertification after January 1, 2015 can be accomplished by first passing the 40-hour ASSE-approved training and exam to gain ASSE 5110 certification. Alternatively, currently-certified backflow testers can also apply to ASSE for “Certification Without Examination” by presenting their training, testing and certification credentials to ASSE in accordance with the guidelines shown in the above link under section XV, Certification Without Examination. Once an individual is ASSE 5110-certified, and as long as they continue to recertify for ASSE 5110 with an ASSE-approved training facility, they should remain eligible for Minnesota recertification.
Unfortunately, the only nearby school currently approved for ASSE backflow training, certification and recertification is in Eau Claire (Local #434 - UA Local 434 Training Center, 2406 Ridge Rd, Eau Claire, WI 54701, Gary Korn, 608-797-2655 (phone), 715-832-9507 (fax)). That is sure to change as Minnesota’s Plumbing Board implements these new rules. To date (1-16-13), there are only three 5110 certified individuals in the state of Minnesota, including the chair of the Plumbing Board. A quick check of MN DLI’s license database showed that some currently-certified MNLA members will need to recertifiy as early as summer 2013.