Cooling tower law enacted to fight Legionnaires' disease

Image 1 of 3

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed a bill into law requiring testing and maintenance of all of the city's cooling towers. The legislation was in response to the city's deadly Legionnaires' disease outbreak.

"This bill will give us additional tools that will allow us to protect our people," de Blasio said.

It is first-in-the-nation legislation for cooling tower maintenance. Officials say it is a powerful response to battle the deadly Legionnaires ' disease. It requires the registration, inspection and disinfection of all existing cooling towers and all new cooling towers that come online.

A dozen people died and 127 cases were reported in this latest outbreak, making it the largest in the city's history.

Dr. Mary Travis Bassett, the health commissioner, said the new regulations will help prevent a future outbreak, and allow the city to rapidly investigate the source of the bacteria.

"We believe that this groundbreaking law has the potential to reduce the number of severity of legionella outbreaks," Bassett said.

This is how this new law works. Cooling towers will require annual certification and quarterly inspection. And landlords must report the increase of bacteria to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. It also calls for mandatory disinfection of cooling towers if they pose a health risk.

Failure to comply with the regulations will result in fines of up to $25,000. The law takes effect immediately. Building owners have 30 days to register their cooling towers.

The Department of Buildings has set up an online portal where landlords can register their cooling towers.