In its all-out war against the mighty legionella bacteria, New York has passed sweeping legislation regarding cooling towers over the past year. One of the upcoming deadlines in New York City and State regarding compliance is the portion of the laws that require annual cooling tower certification. In the State of New York, building owners and property managers must annually certify that their cooling towers have been inspected, tested, cleaned and disinfected in compliance with New York State Legionella Law - Part 4 of Title 10: Protection Against Legionella. New York City has their own version of this law that must also be followed by building owner that operate a cooling tower with the five boroughs of NYC; the requirements of which are spelled out in Local Law 77 of 2015 and Chapter 8 (Cooling Towers) of Title 24 of the Rules of the City of New York.
The City and State requirements are similar but they are not that same and there is one MAJOR difference that makes the whole process more difficult and potentially more costly. And there one more small thing – all of the City and State Certifications are DUE BY NOVEMBER 1st 2016! But don’t worry; this post will take the guesswork out of what you need to and how you need to do it. (And for those of you that just can’t stand to read another article about the NY cooling tower laws - yes, water treatment companies like ours can help you.)
The Difference Between the CITY and STATE Requirements for Cooling Tower Annual Certification
First let’s discuss what is the same: Both the City and State require a building owner to certify that their cooling towers have been inspected, tested, cleaned and disinfected in accordance with the City and/or State laws. (PS - There are big fines for skimping on your twice yearly cooling tower cleaning in NYC.)
Because if your cooling tower is located in New York City, you MUST comply with the State law as well.
Neither the City nor the State explicitly says how an annual certification should be written. At the time of this posting (a mere 13 days before the November 1st deadline) there has been no approved template or document from either the City or the State that gives guidance on exactly what they want to see and how they want it presented.
The New York City Legionella Laws say that the building owner must file a certification indicating that the “tower was inspected, tested, cleaned and disinfected in accordance with the maintenance program and plan (MPP).” It goes further to say that “The certification must document any deviations from compliance with the MPP and the corrective actions taken to address any deficiencies.”
The New York State Legionella Law says that a cooling tower owner must certify that their cooling tower has a maintenance program in place, and that all activities within that plan or required by the law have been implemented, including all bacteriological culture sampling and analysis (dipslide tests), all Legionella culture sampling and analysis, all cleaning & disinfections and all inspections that were performed throughout the most recent year.
As you can see, the City and State requirements are generally pretty similar – they both are trying to determine if you are following sound cooling tower water treatment practices – BUT there is one big difference in the STATE REQUIREMENTS that effects BOTH the City and State. While the City law implies that the a cooling tower own may certify their tower by preparing their own document and uploading it to the City Registration Website, the State law orders that cooling tower owners obtain certification from a “qualified person,” which is defined as a New York State licensed professional engineer, certified industrial hygienist, certified water technologist, environmental consultant or water treatment professional.
So to be clear – to be in compliance with both the City and State Cooling Tower Laws, all NY Cooling Tower owners MUST obtain a certification from a “qualified professional.” (Please review the highlighted excerpts from the City and State Legionella Laws below that establish this point.)
The City website asks that an actual certification document that demonstrates that the building owner’s acknowledgement and declaration of compliance with the City’s law be uploaded through the DOB hosted website; however, at the time of this post, the State’s DOH website does not have the capability to upload an actual document. Instead the State’s website asks for building owners to log into the State cooling tower website and enter the following information through their online forms:
Equipment Maintenance Details
- Whether systematic disinfection is maintained manually, through timed injection, or through continuous delivery
- The name of the contractor or employee engaged to inspect and certify the cooling tower
- The commissioning date of the cooling tower
- The date of last routine culture sample collection, sample results, and date of any required remedial action
- The date of any legionella sample collection, sample results, and date of any required remedial action
- The date of the tower’s last cleaning and disinfection
- The dates of start and end of any shutdown that lasts for more than five days
- The date that the last certification was completed and date when it was due
- The date of the last inspection and date when it was due
- If applicable, the date of discontinued use
Please note: Even though the State does not at this time have the capability of uploading a third party certification, the building owner is still required to obtain one and keep it on file on location.
NY Cooling Tower Registration Websites
You are going to need to log into both the City and State Cooling Tower Registration Websites in order to submit your Annual Certification of NY Cooling Towers. Here are links to the websites:
New York Laws Pertaining to Annual Cooling Tower Registration for the City and State
Both New York City and New York State require a building owner to annually certify their cooling towers however the City and State laws have separate requirements that must be met. Here are the excerpts from all of the New York Legionella Laws that pertain to Annual Certification:
From Chapter 8 (Cooling Towers) of Title 24 of the Rules of the City of New York
- 8-07 Records.
(a) Records. An owner must keep for at least three (3) years in the building where a cooling tower is located or in an adjacent building or structure on the same campus, complex, lot, mall or on-site central engineering division a record of any maintenance, inspection, deficiency, corrective action, water treatment, test result, cleaning or disinfection performed on the tower.
(b) Certification. The owner of a cooling tower must file an annual certification each year as specified by the Department of Buildings, indicating that such tower was inspected, tested, cleaned and disinfected in accordance with the maintenance program and plan, as required by § 28-317.5 (see Local Law 77 below) of the Administrative Code. The certification must document any deviations from compliance with the maintenance program and plan and the corrective actions taken to address any deficiencies.
(c) Posting. The owner must post the Department of Buildings Cooling Tower Registration Number that has been assigned to that cooling tower on each cooling tower. The Registration Number must be posted on a sign or plate that is securely fastened to the cooling tower in a location that is conspicuously visible and must be constructed of a durable, weather resistant material.
From Local Law 77 of 2015 which enacts a new Article 317 to Chapter 3 of Title 28 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York
- 28-317.5 Annual certification. The owner or operator of a cooling tower shall file a certification each year that such cooling tower was inspected, tested, cleaned and disinfected in compliance with section 17-194.1 of the administrative code and the rules of the department of health and mental hygiene, and that a maintenance program and plan has been developed and implemented as required by such section. Such certification shall be submitted by November 1, 2016 and by November 1 of each year thereafter, or as otherwise specified in the rules of the department.
- 28-317.7 Enforcement. Failure to register a cooling tower or submit a certification or statement required by this article shall be classified as a major violation.
NOTE: Section 28-317.7, entitled “Enforcement,” makes failure to register a cooling tower or submit a certification or statement required by new article 317 a major (also called Class 2) violation. The statutory maximum for a major violation is $10,000.
From Section 225(5)(a) of the Public Health Law, Part 4 of Title 10: Protection Against Legionella of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York
- 4-1.8 Inspection and certification.
(1) All owners of cooling towers shall ensure that such towers are inspected prior to seasonal start-up and at intervals not exceeding every 90 days while in use. Year-round towers shall be inspected at intervals not exceeding every 90 days and prior 18 to start-up, following maintenance.
(2) All inspections shall be performed by a: New York State licensed professional engineer; certified industrial hygienist; certified water technologist; environmental consultant or water treatment professional with training and experience performing inspections in accordance with current standard industry protocols including, but not limited to ASHRAE 188-2015, as incorporated by section 4-1.4 of this Subpart.
(3) Each inspection shall include an evaluation of the:
(i) cooling tower and associated equipment for the presence of organic material, biofilm, algae, debris and other visible contaminants;
(ii) general condition of the cooling tower basin, remote sump, packing material, and drift eliminators;
(iii) water make-up connections and control, including backflow protection and/or airgaps as needed;
(iv) proper functioning of the conductivity control; and
(v) proper functioning of all water treatment equipment, including, but not limited to, pumps, timers, valves, and strain gauges.
(4) Any deficiencies found during inspection shall be reported to the owner for immediate corrective action. A person qualified to inspect pursuant to subdivision (a) of this section shall document all deficiencies, and all completed corrective actions.
(b) Certification. By November 1, 2016, and by November 1st of each year thereafter, the owner of a cooling tower shall obtain a certification from a person identified in subdivsion (a) of this 19 section, that such cooling tower has a maintenance program and plan, and that all activities within that plan or required by this Subpart were implemented, including but not limited to:
(1) all bacteriological culture sampling and analysis;
(2) all Legionella culture sampling and analysis, including any immediate Legionella culture sampling and analysis performed pursuant to paragraphs (b)(3) and (b)(4) of section 4-1.4 of this Subpart;
(3) any disinfection performed pursuant to section 4-1.7 of this Subpart; and
(4) all inspections performed pursuant subdivision (a) of this section.
(c) Reporting. All inspection findings, deficiencies, and corrective actions, and all certifications, shall be reported to the owner, who shall retain such information, in accordance with section 4- 1.9 of this Subpart.
What a NY Cooling Tower Owner Needs to Do Today
Make sure that you reach out to your “qualified person” to see if they intend on providing you with your Annual Certification. Your water treatment company should be able to provide you with the documentation that you need to be in compliance with the State (and therefore the City) Cooling Tower Laws. If you are unable to get your Annual Certification through your existing provider, do not hesitate to contact us for help.
As always, that you for reading!
Need a copy of the NY City and State Legionella Laws?
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Clarity Water Technologies is known throughout the east coast as an innovative industrial/commercial water treatment company and the innovators of 360 Degree Legionella Management Service. To put it simply: As New York City's Top Environmental Consultants, we make commercial HVAC and industrial process machinery last longer and run more efficiently, with less fuel and less downtime, by chemically treating the water that runs through it. Typical systems that we treat include steam boilers, chillers and cooling towers; however, we also offer advanced wastewater, glycol services, odor control and fuel treatment services. We are one of Northeast’s most trusted Legionella remediation companies and are widely accepted as one of the best consulting firms to establish best practices for the implementation of ASHRAE Standard 188 - Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems.
As environmental consultants specializing in water treatment, we know that chemistry is only one part of what makes a cooling tower system operate at peak performance. The other part of the equation is proper physical cleaning, disinfection and maintenance. Today, Clarity offers one of the most reliable and effective cooling tower disinfection services available throughout NY, NJ, CT, DE, MD and PA. Clarity is a NADCA Certified HVAC Cleaning Service Company. Our team also offers on-line cleanings, chlorine dioxide disinfection, Legionella remediation and installation of the EcoSAFE Solid Feed System—one of the most advanced water treatment systems for Cooling Towers in the world! Please contact us today for a free estimate on your next project.
New York Water Treatment Professional and Environmental Consultant, Greg Frazier has a vast knowledge of Industrial Water Treatment and is currently the Managing Partner of Clarity Water Technologies, one of the top Water Treatment Companies in the United States. Mr. Frazier has over 19 years of Industrial Water Treatment experience and holds a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Tennessee. Clarity Water Technologies specializes in comprehensive water treatment services. Clarity's service goes far beyond administering Cooling Tower Water Treatment chemicals - it also includes Cooling Tower Maintenance and HVAC Cleaning Services.