Maintaining Cooling Towers

Registration of Cooling Towers, Evaporative Condensers and Fluid Coolers

Building owners and property managers are required to register cooling towers, fluid coolers and evaporative condensers with the City. If you have any of this equipment, you must register through the Department of Buildings at Cooling Tower Registration. Building owners and property managers are also required to follow the cooling tower maintenance and testing regulations - Chapter 8 of the Rules of the City of New York. This is in compliance with Local Law 77 of 2015, which was made effective August 18th, 2015.

Checklist for Complying with the Cooling Tower Law

Use this checklist (PDF) to help comply with the cooling tower law.

Inspecting and Disinfecting Cooling Towers

The Commissioner’s order requires building owners to hire environmental consultants with demonstrated experience performing disinfection using current industry standard protocols including the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 188P and Cooling Technology Institute Guidelines WTB-148.

Disinfection requires the use of biocides, which requires commercial pesticide applicator certification in Category 7G – Cooling Towers, Pulp & Paper Process issued by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC). Registered pesticide businesses in Category 7G (Cooling Towers) who can assist with the disinfection process can be found on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) website.

Annual Certification

The building owner or property manager of a cooling tower must file a certification each year that the cooling equipment was inspected, tested, cleaned and disinfected. A maintenance program and plan will need to be developed and implemented as part of this process.

Maintenance Program and Plan

New York State and New York City require building owners to develop and use a cooling tower system maintenance program and plan (MPP) in line with the ASHRAE 188-2015 standard. Guidance for Building Owners: Cooling Towers (PDF) provides detailed guidance on how to develop and use an MPP. Failure to comply with the requirements could result in a notice of violation subject to fines.

A fillable Cooling Tower Maintenance Program and Plan model (PDF) has been developed to help building owners develop an MPP. To request an MS Word version of the MPP model, send an email to CTCompliance@health.nyc.gov.

Commissioner's Order

On August 6 2015, the New York City Health Commissioner issued an order to all owners of buildings with cooling towers in response to the Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak in the South Bronx. Building owners are now required to register cooling towers, evaporative condensers, and fluid containers with the Department of Buildings at Cooling Tower Registration.

The City issued this order because of an outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease in the South Bronx. Several cooling towers in the affected neighborhoods tested positive for legionella. The outbreak has not affected the City's drinking or bathing water; it is safe for building residents to drink and bathe with tap water. It is also safe to use home air conditioning units and to be in air conditioned environments.

Signed Order of the Commissioner (PDF)

Learn more about Legionnaires' Disease.

If You are a Resident Living in a Building with a Cooling Tower

You can ask your building management to register online. For more information, please visit Registering Building Cooling Towers.