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April 21, 2017

Water Safety Management Solutions Examined at DDC Talks Monthly Lecture Series

Dan Leibel

Long Island City, NY –The most recent installment of the monthly lecture series “DDC Talks” helped architects, engineers, and construction professionals understand water quality and sustainability issues in local water systems, focusing on potential hazards that could lead to the introduction of human pathogens into drinking water supplies.

Featuring panelists Allison Yee, a Senior Account Manager at NSF International, a public health and safety organization that audits, tests and certifies various products and systems, and Aaron Rosenblatt, Principal of Gordon & Rosenblatt, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in public health, the event featured potential hazards in building water systems such as sediment buildup and the growth of biofilm, which may harbor harmful microbial organisms such as legionella bacteria. In summer 2015, a Legionnaires disease outbreak in the Bronx that caused 16 deaths was found to result from community exposure to Legionella-contaminated water held in local buildings’ cooling towers.

DDC Talks poster with information and illustration of a water tower
April’s DDC Talks lecture examined the potential hazards of water systems in buildings

“New York City is renowned for its high quality upstate drinking water system, something that it invests in heavily to protect and maintain. It’s critical that local water systems can complete the delivery cycle to the consumer without facilitating risks to public health,” said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “I thank the presenters for an informative and thought provoking lecture. It’s important for our agency-wide commitment to healthy living and sustainability that we continue to learn from experts in the industry through the DDC Talks program.”

Yee and Rosenblatt identified four main hazardous conditions that might lead to microbial amplification in water towers: sediment buildup, high temperatures, age of the water, and residual disinfectant levels. Methods for monitoring water in towers include temperature control, frequent cleanings, the cycling of new water within water tanks and routine inspections of equipment. The speakers also highlighted benefits related to modern green building design, which increase water efficiency by promoting conservation behaviors such as limiting non-potable uses such as decorative fountains, which can become hotbeds of potentially hazardous microbial activity.

Allison Yee focuses on water systems and ways to improve filtration in building water towers. She holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Aaron Rosenblatt focuses mainly on the science, technology and regulation of sustainable, adaptable, regulation-compliant means and methods of disinfecting drinking water. He is an Advisor to NSF International on matters involving premise plumbing and public health. His work for NSF International includes the development of the education and training programs HACCP for Building Water Systems

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s lenses of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, new or upgraded roadways, sewers, water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $15 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative, and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to city projects. For more information, please visit