Mar 13, 2020

Legionnaires' Report Recommends Cooling Tower Registration System

A report to help improve responses to Legionnaires’ Disease outbreaks and water conservation has been released


cooling tower

A new policy report, Electronic Registration Systems for Cooling Towers – Improving Public Health and Sustainability Outcomes, was created to improve response to Legionnaires’ outbreaks and water conservation. 

The report was published by the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN). It proposes a standardized and flexible template for cooling tower registries in order to: improve health outcomes, address disparity in affected populations, and increase water and energy efficiency. 

The report encourages that cities, states and water utilities should create electronic cooling tower registration systems to improve surveillance and response to cases. It also calls for registries being utilized as an important sustainability tool to help evaluate the effectiveness of maintenance plans and identify areas for improved efficiency. There are more than 2 million cooling towers in the U.S., according to the report.

“Establishing a cooling tower registry is the crucial first step to dramatically improve the ability to meet public health and sustainability goals. This touch-stone document provides the scientific basis for creating cooling tower registries and the road map to ensure their successful implementation,” said Chris Boyd, General Manager of Building Water Health at NSF Health Sciences.

According to a study published in April 2018 in Current Environmental Health Reports, cooling towers were suspected to have caused the majority of Legionnaires’ disease outbreak-associated deaths examined during the study period between 2006 and 2017.

New York City was the first U.S. city to create an electronic cooling tower registry system after a large outbreak in 2015, in which 138 people got sick and 16 died. Other cities and states, including Austin, Texas; Hamilton, Canada; Vancouver, Canada; the State of New York; Quebec, Canada; and Victoria, Australia, now require cooling towers to be registered. Registries also exist in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Singapore.

“Technology plays a key role in nurturing a healthy urban living environment. The USDN workshop provided us the opportunity to share our experience deploying the New York City Registration Portal with participating governments and provided attendees with a roadmap for a successful program implementation,” said Hrair Achkarian, President and CEO of GroveWare Technologies Inc., the software firm that developed New York City’s cooling tower registration system.