Cooling towers are some of the most powerful and widely used pieces of machinery in large buildings and facilities. They regulate temperature through heat exchange that is facilitated by water—and this water can become contaminated with bacteria and other harmful contents that can put not only the system but also the people in the area in danger. This is why it is important to remain on top of cooling tower maintenance. However, New York City has also put forth requirements about how to care for a cooling tower, and understanding how to remain in compliance with these regulations of local law 77 is critical for any facility that relies on this type of equipment.
Why NYC Local Law 77 Exists
The law that governs how cooling towers are maintained is NYC Local Law (sometimes abbreviated simply as LL 77) The origin of this set of regulations stemmed from a sudden and unexpected outbreak of illness that was later traced back to the proliferation of Legionella within the city’s cooling towers.
More than 30 people passed away as a result of the bacteria, which spread some distance from its point of origin within water droplets that were expelled into the air as the tower created mist and vapor while operating.
Hundreds more fell ill, and the city determined that from that point onward, cooling towers must be rigorously maintained and tested to ensure the safety of the public. This was the origin of Local Law 77 and the reason all New York cooling towers must now maintain compliance and undergo regular testing and inspection.
The Requirements for Compliance with LL 77
In order to stay in compliance with NYC Local Law 77, building owners and managers must follow a set of guidelines for their cooling tower. First and foremost, their tower must be registered with the state, and all new towers must be registered immediately.
Each cooling tower must be tested regularly—the DOHMH indicates that this should occur no less often than every three months, which for practical purposes means that testing must be conducted every 90 days.
Within this same 90-day span of time, a qualified individual must also inspect the cooling tower. Be aware that a qualified individual has some training and certification in order to perform this task; it is not a job that a typical business owner or building manager can check off on their own.
In addition to these requirements, LL 77 also states that if the tower was shut down such that water treatment or recirculation stopped for five or more days, the tower must be cleaned, drained and disinfected before it is put back into service.
A number of documentation requirements are also present in LL 77, including keeping on-site activity records for three years, certifying that the towers have been properly inspected each year and developing and following a maintenance plan for the tower that complies with ASHRAE standards.
Do City Requirements Fulfill State Requirements Too?
Cooling towers can be extremely dangerous to the public if not properly maintained, which is why New York City takes such great care in being thorough in its compliance requirements. However, these regulations are only part of the grander picture; New York state also has requirements that must be followed, and they are not the same as the local city regulations.
Some differences include the means and content of regular reporting regarding the status of the cooling tower, and the two entities also differ slightly in their requirements for who qualifies as an acceptable professional to evaluate the tower.
Because of the differences in city and state requirements for cooling towers as well as the strict mandates for who can perform which tasks and how, many businesses elect to rely on cooling tower and water treatment professionals who can help them navigate the entire process. Failure to properly comply with Local Law 77 or state guidelines can result in a fine and a requirement to shut the building down until the issue has been dealt with.
Work with the Expert Water Treatment and Compliance Professionals
Whether you are reevaluating your current cooling tower water treatment plan or need assistance staying in compliance with Local Law 77, the simplest way to proceed is to rely on an experienced water treatment company.
The experts at Legionella Compliance Solutions can help you to navigate Legionella prevention in your cooling tower and keep you in compliance with all relevant local and state guidelines. Reach out to schedule an appointment to discuss your options and develop a strategy for compliance with Local Law 77 and the state’s regulations.