If you are just catching up on your New York Cooling Tower laws, there has been a lot going on lately! Building owners, water treatment companies, and environmental consultants have all been struggling to keep up with the evolving regulations. The current “law of the land” that governs what must be done in order to properly operate a cooling tower in New York City was established in Local Law 77 of 2015 which was passed by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio on August 18th, 2015.
In New York State, the Public Health and Health Planning Council (PHHPC) is authorized to establish sanitary regulations known as the State Sanitary Code (SSC) subject to the approval of the Commissioner of Health. With the encouragement of Governor Andrew Cuomo there were emergency rules passed by and inserted as Part 4 to Title 10 (Health) of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York that now provide requirements to all building owners that operate cooling towers in the State of New York.
Both the New York City and New York State regulations are very similar, but not exactly the same. In fact, if you operate a cooling tower in NYC, you must register that cooling tower on both the New York City and State Cooling Tower Registration website.
So now that both the New York City and State cooling tower laws are public, you should just follow them and get on with your life, right? Well, yes that’s true… HOWEVER the City requirements might be getting a bit tougher than you may have originally anticipated. New York City’s Local Law 77 of 2015 was passed in an emergency environment. People were getting sick and dying from legionella related illnesses in the Bronx. The Commissioner of Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and the Mayor had to do something immediately, so they passed emergency orders and regulations designed to address the immediate threat. Local Law 77 had some open ended parts to it that called for the DOHMH to further define and promulgate their ongoing requirements for cooling tower maintenance and operation.
Enter Chapter 8 to Title 24 of the Rules of the City of New York!
What is the newly proposed Chapter 8 to Title 24 of the Rules of the City of New York?
On November 20th, 2015, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene filed their proposed resolution to add a new Chapter 8 to Title 24 of the Rules of the City of New York which would establish ongoing rules for the maintenance of cooling towers to prevent contamination from legionella bacteria. A public hearing to discuss the terms of this resolution was held on January 4th, 2016.
The DOHMH’s resolution is a 19 page document that further establishes the specific requirements to comply with the rules set forth in Local Law 77 of 2015. Sections of the New Title 24 Chapter 8 include more detailed requirements for creating and maintaining a Cooling Tower Maintenance Program and Plan, Process Control Measures, and Water Treatment and Testing Requirements. Here are just some of the highlights of the New Chapter 8 as proposed by the DOHMH:
Cooling Tower Maintenance Program and Plan
- Must include a contact list and qualifications of a Cooling Tower Management and Maintenance Team that has been clearly define and designated by the Building Owner
- Must include clear identification, specifications and description of each cooling tower system and proof of registration, cleanings, testing, etc
- Must include a Risk Management Assessment that identifies risk factors for Legionella proliferation and specifies Legionella risk management procedures
- Must describe the full details of cooling tower operation for each system including control measures, corrective actions, and documentation.
- Must include a written checklist for routine monitoring, reporting, sampling results and other actions taken to maintain the cooling tower system
Process Control Measures
- Must include weekly written cooling tower inspections, by someone on the designated Cooling Tower Management and Maintenance Team, to look for the presence of organic material, biofilm, algae, scale, sediment and silt/dust deposits, organics (oil and grease), and other visible contaminants
- On a weekly basis a responsible person must observe and note the condition of chemical dosing and control equipment and the bleed-off system, and determine if there is sufficient storage and delivery of treatment chemicals
- A routine maintenance plan must be administered so that the cooling tower systems are maintained and operated in accordance with the Maintenance Program and Plan and must address general system cleanliness, drift eliminator and fill material condition, overall distribution operation, water treatment system, basin/remote sump cleaning, and purging of stagnant and low-flow zones
- The cooling tower system must be cleaned whenever routine monitoring indicates a need for cleaning, but no less than twice a year, as specified in the Maintenance Program and Plan.
- All cooling towers must minimize the formation and release of aerosols and mist, therefore, if not already present, owners must install and maintain drift eliminators in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications and New York City Construction Codes
- A qualified person, like an environmental consultant, must conduct a compliance inspection at least once every ninety (90) days while a cooling tower system is in operation
Water Treatment and Testing Requirements
- Water in a cooling tower system must be treated at least once a day, when the system is in operation and such treatment must be automated (unless the Maintenance Program and Plan explicitly states how manual or less frequent biocide additions will provide effective control of Legionella growth)
- Cooling towers must be operated and programmed to continually recirculate their water irrespective of the building’s cooling demand of the system
- Proper cooling tower water treatment chemicals and biocides must be used in quantities and combinations sufficient to control the presence of Legionella, minimize biofilms, and prevent scaling and corrosion that may facilitate microbial growth. Biocides must be registered with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and only applied under the supervision of a Certified and Licensed New York Commercial Pesticide Applicator
- Records must be kept for all chemicals and biocides added noting: purpose of their use; manufacturer’s name; brand name; safety data sheet; and date time and amount added
- Non-chemical water treatment devices that employ alternative technologies to control biological growth may not be used in lieu of chemical biocide
- Owners using water derived from rainwater capture or recycling water systems as a source of cooling tower system makeup water must install a drift eliminator and test and treat water in accordance with a specific alternative source water plan that is approved by the DOHMH. (This is in addition to their Cooling Tower Maintenance Program and Plan.)
- Water Quality Testing Requirements
- Daily Testing: Water quality measurements, including pH, temperature, conductivity and biocide residual (free and total) must be measured and recorded at least once each day when the cooling tower system is operating
- Weekly Testing: A bacteriological indicator to estimate microbial content of recirculating water must be collected and interpreted at least once each week while the cooling tower system is operating
- Quarterly Testing: Legionella culture testing must be conducted no less frequently than every 90 days during cooling tower system operation. Legionella samples must be analyzed by a laboratory approved by the DOHMH.
If you are a building owner operating a cooling tower in the City of New York, you may be reading this and thinking to yourself that it is going to be very challenging to comply with these new regulations, but before you do, you may want to take a look at the proposed Fine and Penalties that you run the risk of having levied against you for non-compliance. You can download our copy of them here:
During the public hearing and via online submission, many industry experts and building associations voiced their opinions and concerns about the level of management needed to comply with the DOHMH’s newly proposed Chapter 8. While some building owners may find the proposal manageable, surely many will find it overly burdensome and will need to make a concerted effort to establish protocols within their daily operations in order to comply. As with so many things, these new requirements must be handled with either time or money; and for some owners, one or both may be in short supply.
As far as we can determine, this level of mandatory management and maintenance processes to run a cooling tower has never been required in any other city or state in the United States before now; however, in many countries throughout Europe there has been legislation in place that requires as much (and more) for years. There are no federal standards or regulations pertaining to registration, maintenance, operation, testing, inspections or water treatment for cooling towers that we are aware of.
At the time of this post, the proposed resolution to Title 24 of the Rules of the City of New York was still “in review.”
As always - thank you for reading! Please let us know your thoughts on the matter in the comment section below.
IMPORTANT: If you own a cooling tower in New York and need to have the required Maintenance Program and Plan in place by March 1st, 2016, we can help you! Please use the link below to request your FREE quote:
About Clarity Water Technologies
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 City Water Treatment Expert and Environmental Consultant, Greg Frazier has a vast knowledge of Industrial Boiler Water Treatment and is currently the Managing Partner of Clarity Water Technologies, one of the top Environmental Consulting firms in New York. 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.