Are the New York City and New York State Cooling Tower Laws confusing you? You are not alone. We get dozens of calls asking which law applies to which location and when. While we cannot offer legal advice on how you should interpret the laws, we can offer you some assistance in navigating them for yourself.
Below we have put together a Side-by-Side Comparison of the Requirements that have been laid out in New York City and State Legionella Laws and, in some cases, must be accounted for in your Legionella Maintenance Program and Plan. This simple to read chart is intended to help you and your team navigate the new legionella laws. Keep in mind: It is not intended to be a substitute for reading the actual laws.
Why Do We Need Cooling Tower Laws?
Water treatment industry professionals have been warning about the dangers of legionella since the Philadelphia outbreak of 1976 that gave the legionella bacteria its name; a convention of the American Legion held at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel. Those who were affected suffered from a type of severe pneumonia (lung infection) that eventually became known as Legionnaires’ disease. Since then Legionella has been suspected in thousands of lung infections and pneumonia related deaths throughout the United States; but not until 2015, almost 40 years later, has there been any sweeping laws passed to protect the public from illness or death caused by Legionella.
That all changed in New York City last year, in the summer of 2015. By mid-July the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene were aggressively investigation the source of a suspected legionella outbreak that would sicken 133 people and eventually claim the lives of 16 of them. Cooling towers capable of transmitting the bacteria were tested throughout the city, but the DOH had a problem; there were no easily accessible records of all the cooling towers in NYC.
Cooling tower water treatment and maintenance was not regulated in New York, or anywhere in the United States prior to July 2015; but New York City’s outbreak in the South Bronx called for legislative action. Both the New York City AND New York State initially passed emergency regulations to register and address all cooling towers throughout the City and State. By July of 2016, both New York City and New York State had passed sweeping cooling tower laws meant to protect the public and which carry severe penalties for their disregard.
New York State has New York Codes, Rules and Regulations, Title 10 – Part 4: Protection Against Legionella which given its power by Statutory Authority: Public Health Law, section 225(5)(a). New York City Passed Local Law 77 or 2015 and codified its regulations with a new Chapter 8 (Cooling Towers) of Title 24 of the Rules of the City of New York.
Has There Been Cooling Tower Legislation Passed in Other States?
At the time of the post, we know of no other state that has passed cooling tower regulations that are as significant as the ones found in New York; however, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) did publish a standard that establishes the minimum legionellosis risk management requirements for building water systems. While a standard is not a law, it does provide public guidelines that become harder to ignore in the event of an outbreak. Now that ASHRAE Standard 188 has by published, it is not unreasonable for it local building departments throughout the United States to incorporate it into their bylaws and regulations. In fact, ASHRAE Standard 188 is specifically named as a resource in both the New York City and State Cooling Tower Laws.
The New York City & State Legionella Law Side-by-Side Comparison Chart
The City and State laws are very similar; however there are some significant differences. While we encourage everyone to read the City and State laws, we have put together an easy to follow side-by-side comparison of the major requirements. You may download our free side-by-side chart below. Please note: This is not a legal document and we are not offering any legal advice. We recommend that you read the actual City and State laws for yourself and, if appropriate, seek the guidance of a professionally qualified entity to correctly determine the proper steps that you need to take in order to stay in compliance with the law.
If you need assistance in New York City or State with your cooling tower testing, water treatment, disinfection or Maintenance Program and Plan (MPP), please do not hesitate to contact us!
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