Emergency New York State Health Department Regulations to Combat Legionnaires’ Disease – Applicable to Facilities with Cooling Towers
On August 17, 2015, Governor Cuomo announced that emergency regulations have been adopted by the New York State Department of Health to prevent the spread of Legionella bacteria and protect New Yorkers from future outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease. These first-of-their-kind statewide regulations took effect at that time and require action within 30 days of issuance.
The new regulations require registration, testing, inspection, and certification of cooling towers. The regulations mandate timeframes and processes for each of these requirements. All building owners must use a statewide electronic system to register and to report actions required by the new regulations.
The regulations define a cooling tower as a tower, evaporative condenser or fluid cooler that is part of a recirculated water system incorporated into a building’s cooling, industrial process, refrigeration or energy production system. Any owner of a building with an existing cooling tower must register the tower with the NYS Department of Health within 30 days (by 9/16/2015).
Any owner of a building with a cooling tower must collect samples and obtain culture testing within 30 days (by 9/16/2015). Thereafter, testing must be performed every 90 days, or in accordance with a maintenance program and plan obtained by the building owner. Any cooling tower found to have Legionella present must have it disinfected by a licensed commercial pesticide applicator.
All cooling towers must be inspected within 30 days (by 9/16/2015), and thereafter every 90 days. All cooling towers must be certified as complying with all regulatory requirements by 11/1/2016, and thereafter annually by November 1 of each year. Each inspection shall include an evaluation of:
- the cooling tower and associated equipment for the presence of organic material, biofilm, algae, and other visible contaminants;
- the general condition of the cooling tower, basin, packing material, and drift eliminator;
- water make-up connections and control;
- proper functioning of the conductivity control; and
- proper functioning of all dosing equipment (pumps, strain gauges).
Registration of cooling towers will be through a statewide electronic system. In addition to registration, all actions required by the new regulations must be reported to the electronic system, within 10 days of such actions being taken.
All inspections are required to be performed by a: NYS licensed professional engineer; certified industrial hygienist; certified water technologist; or environmental consultant with training and experience performing inspections in accordance with current standard industry protocols. C.T. Male Associates’ staff is qualified to assist with preparation of the Cooling Tower Registration, as well as assist with the testing and inspection requirements of the regulation. As this program had only a 30-day phase-in, this is a time sensitive matter requiring immediate action to achieve compliance.