Legionella Testing and Legislation in Florida
In December 2019, Florida State Senator Joe Gruters introduced legislation (23-00188-20) proposing regulation of the monitoring, control and testing of cooling towers for Legionella. The proposal was similar to the regulations adopted in NYC due to the outbreak of Legionella in the Bronx, New York City, in 2015.
The proposed legislation proposed demanded:
– Tower registration
– Tower disinfection
– Monitoring of bacteria
– Additional monitoring
– 8 cycles of concentration in all towers (!!)
The bill had many specifics which would require scientific input and collaboration on many levels to make them applicable. Fortunately for tower operators, this proposed regulation was voted down in mid-February, 2020.
According to the Florida Department of Health, “The distribution of legionellosis in Florida does not differ from the national trends. The majority of cases in Florida occur in those 65 and over with a peak incidence in those 75-84. When looking at seasonality, the majority of cases occur in August to October.”
Legionella Prevention is Essential
While tower operators may not welcome additional regulation, they must all face the reality that Legionella exists, it is present in many water sources, it is dangerous, it is a liability, and cooling towers are one place that harbors Legionella.
It’s imperative to maintain and document a chemical treatment program for your cooling tower which acknowledges these facts and complies with the directions of ASHRAE 188. The application, verification and validation of Legionella control efforts is in your best interest, and it’s the right thing to do for public health.
Regardless of the current state of regulations governing your tower, we advise you to initiate and adhere to a conscientious monitoring program to not only maintain microbial growth in your towers, but also to document that you are following the recommendations of ASHRAE, the Cooling Tower Institute and the Association on Water Technologies.
Cooling Tower Regulations on the Rise
We’ve seen Legionella-oriented regulations for cooling towers increase in New York City, along with many other parts of the world such as the UK and Australia. More regulations may be coming to your area.
Do this, and you’ll be prepared and ahead of the game if or when new regulations are instituted.
If there is a Legionella outbreak anywhere near your cooling tower, these simple actions will help protect you and reduce the associated legal liability. And if more rigid legislation becomes your local reality, you’ll be that much ahead of the game in complying.
The Chemtex TRiM (Tower Risk Management) program was specifically designed to address the elements of ASHRAE 188 which pertain to cooling towers. If you have questions, please talk to your Chemtex Rep about how we can help.