Buildings and facilities that rely on a cooling tower to manage their air temperature must undergo regular and comprehensive inspection in order to ensure that their machinery is safe.
However, the safety of a cooling tower does not just rely on the correct functioning of its mechanical parts; the water in the tower must also be properly treated and managed so that dangerous bacteria such as Legionella do not proliferate.
In New York, the Department of Health will insure that cooling tower inspections conducted, and the best way to receive a positive outcome is to be prepared and do your part prior to the visit.
What Is A DOH Cooling Tower Inspection And Why Is It Conducted?
A DOH cooling tower inspection involves one or more compliance officers arriving on the scene to evaluate your cooling tower, compliance testing and paperwork, and review that your water treatment is operating.
Prior to 2015, this was not a regular process; in fact, the government did not have a method of documenting all existing cooling towers, and towers were not mandated to undergo regular testing and water treatment.
However, an outbreak of disease caused by Legionella, a particularly dangerous bacteria that can be spread by cooling towers through its water, affected more than 130 and led to the deaths of 16 in July of 2015, prompting immediate action.
After this event, new government regulations arose that dictated that all cooling towers must be registered and that they are required to regularly treat their water and remain in good working order so that Legionella bacteria could not cause another outbreak.
If an outbreak does occur, the government now has a comprehensive list of cooling towers that aids in outbreak tracing, mitigating the potential damage.
Thus arose regular cooling tower inspections by the DOH. A compliance officer will review the details of your cooling tower and evaluate the possible presence of Legionella, as well as your facility’s strategies for mitigating the risk and the emergency plans you have in place should Legionella be detected.
They may conduct water sampling and will review the overall water supply and distribution system of the building, including additional equipment besides the cooling tower such as evaporative condensers and plumbing.
Possible Outcomes Of A DOH Inspection
A DOH inspection of your cooling tower can culminate in a wide variety of results depending upon the state of your water system.
The inspector from the Office of Building Water Supply Oversight will generate an Inspection Summary Report (ISR), which is typically emailed to the facility the same day that the inspection concludes.
This ISR will describe whether the building has been deemed compliant or whether there is one or more violations that the facility must handle before it can be brought into good standing.
If your building has been deemed in violation of regulations, you will receive a Violation Deficiency Report (VDR). This report will explain in greater detail areas of deficiency that must be addressed, and it will provide a time limit for resolution; this timeline is called “days to cure” and will typically be either zero, three or seven.
This is how many days you have to fix the problem and upload evidence to the Online Cooling Tower Registration Portal. If you fail to resolve the problem within the specified time, you will receive a fine.
Some severe violations, or those that a building owner wishes to disagree with, will result in the issuance of a summons to attend a hearing in court.
Most violations and fines can be handled electronically or by mail. Once any violations have been resolved, the facility will receive a Certificate of Correction verifying that it has successfully moved into compliance.
How To Prepare For An Upcoming Inspection
The best method of preparing for an upcoming DOH cooling tower inspection is to ensure that your facility manages a comprehensive prevention plan for Legionella and overall water treatment, and that your emergency strategy and long-term maintenance goals are robust and regularly achieved.
This is best done by working with experienced Legionella prevention experts who can offer personalized guidance on the risks of your specific cooling tower and the water system that feeds your building.
Work With The Cooling Tower Maintenance and Safety Experts
If you are unsure whether your cooling tower maintenance and water treatment plans are up to par with local and state regulations for compliance, be sure to rely on the expertise of cooling tower and water treatment professionals.
The technicians at Legionella Compliance Solutions would be happy to evaluate the unique risk factors and strengths of your system and current plan to discover any troublesome areas before you receive a fine during the DOH inspection. Reach out to schedule an evaulation with a professional today.