Legionnaires’ Disease Prompts Cooling Tower Requirements

August 18, 2015 By Linda Hardesty

coolingWith 12 confirmed dead and more than 120 cases of infection due to legionellosis (Legionnaires’ disease) in New York City this summer, the NY City Council adopted legislation that requires adherence to part of ASHRAE’s newly published Legionella standard.

The legislation addresses registration and inspection of cooling towers. It requires owners to create and file a plan to maintain equipment to comply with Section 7.2 of ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188-2015, Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems.

The standard provides minimum Legionellosis risk management requirements for the design, construction, commissioning, operation, maintenance, repair, replacement and expansion of new and existing buildings and their associated water systems and components.

“Standard 188 was published just two short months ago,” ASHRAE President David Underwood said. “Although the circumstances surrounding its use are tragic, ASHRAE is grateful that the standard is available to set requirements to manage risk of this bacteria. We are hopeful other governments will follow the lead of the New York City Council to help safeguard public health.”

ASHRAE Section 7.2 lists common tasks and steps for items such as new system start-up and seasonal shutdowns, general system maintenance, water treatment and disinfection plans.

Specific requirements in the standard include:

  1. Minimum Legionellosis risk management requirements for buildings and their associated potable and non-potable water systems.
  2. Establishment by building owners of a Program Team and (in turn) a Water Management Program for which they are responsible in order to comply with the standard.
  3. Provision of specific and detailed requirements for what Legionellosis control strategies must accomplish and how they are to be documented – but, does not provide (or place restrictions on) what specific strategies are to be used or applied.

Photo of cooling towers via Shutterstock

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