If you operate a facility that relies on a cooling tower anywhere in New York City, you likely have a lot to think about in terms of regular maintenance, emergency planning and the prevention of bacterial overgrowth.
Much of this regular maintenance is typically done to improve efficiency, thereby reducing the total cost to operate and avoiding costly repairs or even replacement prematurely in the tower’s lifespan.
However, the City of New York also requires that cooling towers comply with its local laws for a variety of reasons, including the health and safety of those who live and work in the area where a tower is active.
What Are the Details of New York City Local Law 77?
New York City local law 77 was first put into place in August of 2015 after the health commissioner issued an order resulting from city inspectors’ reports in South Bronx and the surrounding area. They had discovered that the cooling towers in the area had tested positive for Legionella, a potentially dangerous gram negative bacteria.
As a result, an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease had begun to break out in the South Bronx area, prompting the city to pass LL 77 to mandate closer inspection and better care for cooling towers so that another deadly outbreak could be prevented.
The details of local law 77 stipulate that cooling towers, condensers and fluid coolers must all be registered with the state before they can be operated. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is in charge of certifying that these systems are correctly and thoroughly disinfected, cleaned and tested for harmful bacteria at least annually.
How to Remain Compliant with LL 77
Compliance with LL 77 is a comprehensive but relatively simple process if you have the help of an experienced Legionella prevention expert or someone who is skilled in long-term cooling tower maintenance. The first step in compliance with NYC local law 77 is to register your cooling tower.
This is a straightforward step that can be done online by providing the appropriate information and keeping it updated as needed in the online portal.
In addition, you will need to hire a Certified Technologist Experienced with the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE Standard 188P) and CTI Guidelines WTB-148 to assist you in evaluating and maintaining your system. This includes following a developed maintenance program that aligns with the ASHRAE guidelines.
Cooling towers must be professionally inspected and tested every 90 days to ensure that Legionella and other dangerous concerns are not developing within the system. It is also important that you clean the equipment at least twice per year and that this procedure be completed by someone certified to do so, not someone in-house.
Any chemicals or other additives that are used in the water and machinery of the cooling tower must abide by the state’s pesticide regulations, which can be explained further by a cooling tower maintenance and cleaning expert.
Consequences of Non-Compliance with Local Law 77
If your cooling tower, condenser or fluid cooler is found to be in compliance with local law 77, you will not need to do anything besides what you are currently doing.
If you are not compliant, however, you can expect a variety of consequences. Even a first violation can result in a fine of up to $2,000, and later violations could see you receiving fines of as much as $5,000 as long as no individuals were harmed as a result of the non-compliance.
If your cooling tower was the cause of a serious injury or death, you can expect a fine of upwards of $10,000, with maximums soaring to $25,000 with the further possibility of one year in jail.
However, these consequences are relatively simple to avoid. Many mandated inspections will result in a short time frame being given during which the problem can be remedied without penalty.
Generally, this ranges from same-day to seven days from the inspection. If you can demonstrate proof that the issue has been resolved, this will be updated in the city’s records.
Work with the Legionella and Cooling Tower Maintenance Experts
Whether you are concerned about the state of your cooling tower or would like to get started on the right foot with a long-term maintenance, cleaning and testing schedule, be sure to work with Legionella compliance and cooling tower experts.
The professional technicians at Tower Water set the standard in water treatment and would be happy to review the specific strengths and risks of your system to help you develop a water treatment plan that keeps Legionella at bay. Reach out to schedule an appointment with an expert today.