September 16 Deadline to Comply with New York’s New Legionella Rules

September 16 Deadline to Comply with New York’s New Legionella Rules

SEPTEMBER 02, 2015

New York State recently enacted emergency rules requiring owners of cooling towers and healthcare facilities to monitor for and protect against legionellosis. See 10 N.Y.C.R.R. Part 4.  The key components of the new rule are outlined below.  If you have any questions or would like a copy of the new rule, please call one of our regulatory experts identified at the end of this memo.

Legionella Rules Key Dates and Action Items

  • All cooling towers must be registered with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) by September 16, 2015 using their electronic system.
  • Initial samples must be collected from all cooling towers and culture tested by September 16, 2015, unless sampling was conducted between July 17, 2015 and August 17, 2015.
  • An initial inspection of all cooling towers must be done by September 16, 2015.
  • Cooling towers must be inspected every 90 days.
  • A maintenance plan must be developed for all cooling towers and submitted by March 1, 2016.
  • Certifications must be obtained by owners and reported to NYSDOH for all cooling towers by November 1, 2016.
  • Yearly certification must be provided by owners to NYSDOH by November 1 for the prior year.
  • Owners must notify NYSDOH within 30 days of removing or discontinuing use of a cooling tower.
  • Owners must maintain records of all actions related to a cooling tower for three years, and make these records available to the NYSDOH or a local health department upon request.

Sampling, Cleaning and Disinfecting

Based on sampling results, owners must take the actions described in the Table below. A certified commercial pesticide applicator or technician must clean and disinfect cooling towers after sampling events, and whenever cooling towers are shut down for more than five days (cleaning and disinfection must occur prior to resuming operations).

Detection Level Required Action
No detection (<10 CFU/mL)[1] Maintain treatment program and Legionella monitoring.
>10 CFU/mL, but < 1,000 CFU/mL
  • Review treatment program.
  • Institute immediate online disinfection.
  • Retest water in 3-7 days.
    • Continue to test at the same time interval until two consecutive readings show acceptable improvement, as determined by a person identified in 10 NYCRR § 4.6.
    • If repeat samples are <100 CFU/mL, repeat online
    •  If repeat samples are >100 CFU/mL, further investigate the water treatment program and perform online disinfection. Retest.
    • If > 1000 CFU/ml, continue as indicated below.
>1,000 CFU/mL
  • Review water treatment program.
  • Institute immediate online decontamination.
  • Retest water in 3-7 days.
    • Continue to test at the same time interval until two consecutive readings show acceptable improvement.
    • If    repeat  samples are          <100       CFU/mL, repeat online
    • If repeat samples are > 100 CFU/mL but < 1,000 CFU/mL, further investigate the water treatment program and perform online disinfection. Retest.
    • If repeat samples are >1,000 CFU/mL carry out system decontamination.

[1] Colony forming units per milliliter.

Inspection and Certification

Cooling towers must be inspected by September 16, 2015 and then at least once a quarter using a NYS licensed Professional Engineer, a certified industrial hygienist, a certified water technologist, or an environmental consultant with training and experience in performing inspections in accordance with applicable rules. Inspections must include:

  1. Visual search for organic material, biofilm, algae, and other visible contaminants.
  2. Visual inspection of the general condition of the cooling tower, basin, packing material, and drift eliminator.
  3. Evaluation of the water make-up connections and control.
  4. Evaluation of the proper functioning of the conductivity control.
  5. Evaluation of the proper functioning of all dosing equipment.
  6. Documentation of all deficiencies and corrective actions.
  7. Report of all inspection findings to the NYSDOH through the electronic reporting system.
  8. Certification by the inspector of the cooling tower stating that inspection, testing, cleaning, and disinfection were performed, that the condition of the tower is suitable for continued use, and that a maintenance program has been developed and implemented

Owner certifications must state: each cooling tower has been inspected, tested, cleaned, and disinfected in accordance with NYSDOH regulations; the condition of each cooling tower is appropriate for its intended use; and a maintenance program has been prepared and implemented.


Owners must develop and implement a maintenance program in accordance with ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188-2015 § 7.2 by March 1, 2016 (Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems). A copy of the maintenance plan must be on the premises of the cooling tower. Maintenance programs must meet the requirements of ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188-2015 and include:

  1. A schedule for routine bacteriological sampling and analysis including dip slides or heterotrophic plate counts to assess microbiological activity.
  2. Emergency sample collection and submission in the event of:
    1. A power failure of sufficient duration to allow bacteria growth.
    2. Loss of biocide treatment sufficient to allow bacteria growth.
    3. Failure of conductivity control to maintain proper cycles of concentration.
    4. Determination by the commissioner that any cases of legionellosis are associated with the cooling tower.
    5. Any other conditions specified by the commissioner.
    6. Immediate response to bacteriological testing as outlined in Appendix 4-A of the rule.

Additional Requirements for Health Care Facilities

Healthcare facilities must comply with the requirements described above and:

  1. Develop and implement a legionella sampling plan for its facilities’ potable water distribution systems.
  2. Report the results of such sampling to NYSDOH.
  3. Take necessary responsive action.

Additional Requirements for Facilities Located in New York City

Facilities located in New York City (NYC) currently are subject to additional cooling tower and legionella regulations under the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The NYC Environmental Control Board has also proposed new regulations related to cooling towers and legionella.

For compliance questions, compliance assistance, or a copy of the new rule please contact Steve Robbins, P.E., at 914-448-2266; Rebecca Corbin, CPEA, at 315-400-5373; or Ray Cowan, CIH, at 866-702-6371.


Practice Leader
Environmental Health & Safety

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