Memorandum in Opposition to Int. Nos. 1149, 1164 Amendments to Water Tank and Cooling Tower Regulations

As the City’s leading real estate trade association, the Real Estate Board of New York (“REBNY”) submits these comments on behalf of its membership which is comprised of commercial, residential, and institutional property owners, builders, managers and brokers. Many of the bills proposed will increase administrative burdens for building owners, the Department of Buildings (DOB) and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). It remains unclear whether these additional layers of oversight and reporting will substantially increase public health and safety—or that there is much utility in the proposed.

DOHMH has a surveillance system in place which regulates and regularly tests drinking water. The agency has never found that a disease was linked to drinking water sourced from a water tank. The NYC Administrative Code currently requires owners to conduct an annual assessment of water quality and water tanks, and to report those findings to DOHMH. Additional rules require immediate reports to the agency for elevated levels of E. coli and other harmful bacteria. Owners must also provide results to tenants upon request. Additional requirements in the building code detail regulations that must be followed to install, maintain and repair water tanks, further ensuring the safety of drinking water.

REBNY has the following specific comments to offer on two proposed bills:

INTRO NO:       1149

SUBJECT:        A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to documentation and submission of cooling tower inspections and certifications.

SPONSORS:    Kallos, Yeger.

DATE:              10/30/18

This bill requires DOB to send electronic reminders and pre-filled inspection forms to owners and operators of cooling towers. While this new requirement could improve compliance, the Council should consult with DOB and ensure the agency has the capacity to do this as this would require the agency to track cooling towers on a 90-day cycle City-wide. The bill would also require qualified inspectors to document and submit inspection results electronically to DOHMH within 5 days of conducting the inspection. This requirement unnecessarily broadens reporting requirements by requiring every test sample be submitted to the City rather than results showing non-compliance. Additionally, reporting results within a five-day timeframe is completely unrealistic and does not allow enough time to generate results after inspections are performed.

INTRO:       1164

SUBJECT:        A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to

reporting the results of cooling tower inspections and to repeal Local Law 77 for the year 2015, relating to cooling towers.

SPONSORS:    Rodriguez, Diaz, Sr.

DATE:              10/30/18

This bill would require the DOHMH and DOB to annually report to the Council the results of building cooling tower inspections and make such results available online. In addition, it adds a requirement that each 90-day inspection be posted electronically. Owners are already required to submit for non-compliance and mitigation efforts to correct the reading. Given the current regulatory landscape, this will add a completely unnecessary new administrative burden that is not central to maintaining the safety of cooling towers.