Free Advice From a Certified Water Technologist

Written by a certified-water treatment expert and an advocate for NY Safety.

As you may already be aware, the NY State is requiring (by law) that all building owners with a cooling tower to evaluate / inspect their current chemical water treatment (WT) program and cooling tower every 90 days. Since these inspections are similar to report cards for your current water treatment (WT) vendor, it will prove less of a liability to have an external third party / vendor / certified water technologist to inspect your buildings' current WT program and cooling tower.

The following analogies should help explain and convince why a building owner / property manager / hotel manager would benefit from investing in a consulting firm / consultant rather than in their current WT vendor for their cooling tower inspections:

  • Would you allow your employees to conduct their OWN job performance evaluations? I would hope not, because this would be concerning for your company; All of your employees would get close to perfect job performance evaluations.
  • Would you allow your building's elevator (maintenance) service company to inspect their OWN work / service repairs? I would hope not, this would be a conflict of interest.

IMPORTANT: The act of having your current, cooling tower – WT vendor conduct their OWN cooling tower inspections for the NY State is very similar to the above noted scenarios.

In the past few years, I have trained hundreds of WT service technicians and WT account executive / managers. And, it was always worrying to see that the majority of new employees in WT companies had no prior experience or knowledge of WT and, even worse, companies had no desire to hire professional water treatment. To prove this, call your WT vendor's account manager and ask him / her where they worked last year or the year before that. They will probably say something like Kohls, Verizon, or even a delivery truck driver. Can someone please explain to me how working for any of the above noted businesses qualifies a person to assist people with Legionella issues? I know … I know … it does not.

After years of working for multi-million dollar WT companies, I understand now that neither geography nor size dictates excellence in the WT field. Only the human mind, passion, dedication, and hands-on experience do. This statement speaks volumes when choosing your vendor to protect your building's tenants from contracting Legionella.

According to the NY State DOHMH, only a "QUALIFIED PERSON" may inspect your cooling tower. The NY State defines a qualified person as a certified water technologist with training and experience developing management plans and performing inspections in accordance with current standard industry protocols including, but not limited to ANSI / ASHRAE 188-2015; A New York State licensed and registered professional engineer; A certified industrial hygienist; Or an environmental consultant who has at least two (2) years of operational experience in water management planning and operation.

IMPORTANT: The majority of Water treatment technicians do not meet these requirements. Ask your WT vendor 's representative if they meet these requirements.

PLEASE NOTE: These cooling tower inspections are hindrances to WT companies, because these companies are already swamped with all of their clients and associated problems. In many regards, they struggle to take care and support their clients. Even worse, some WT companies have a tendency to only provide the bare minimum and, at times, clients do not get serviced for 2 to 3 months. As a direct consequence, WT companies lose many accounts (cancellation of services). However, by the time that they would lose an account, another company would sign up with them. This is what we call in the WT world … A WASH.

In NY, some WT companies are simply too large for themselves and the people who are overseeing the whole operation typically have no formal training in water treatment. Sadly, it is all about being a quantity driven company rather than being what they claim … a quality driven water treatment company.

There are only a few independent NYC / NJ WT consulting firms that can really help secure your tenants from contracting Legionella. These are the experts … these are the certified water technologists of the world … these are the people in water treatment consulting / cooling tower inspection firms. The difference in expertise between a certified water technologist and your regular WT technician who gets minimum wage is tremendous. More specifically, WT technicians struggle with programming water treatment controllers and even worse have no idea how to calculate how much chemical to put into your water system. When technicians need calculations to be made on site they call their company's certified water technologist or make the dose based on some calculation that a certified water technologist has provided them.

In a nutshell, be safe and choose wisely who will inspect your cooling tower and overall WT program. In essence, the only way to avoid unnecessary fines from the NY DOHMH is to hire a water treatment expert.

Here are some questions you should ask during this screening process:

1. Is your cooling tower inspector qualified to inspect a cooling tower (demand proof / documentation).

2. Does your cooling tower inspector understand the intricacies within a NY State Cooling Tower Inspections?

3. Does your cooling tower inspector know how to maneuver through the programming of the water treatment controller?

4. Does your cooling tower inspector know how to actuate chemical metering pumps and different types of water treatment devices via the water treatment controller?

5. Does your cooling tower inspector understand a cooling tower's critical risk points and how to troubleshoot problems once they see them. Are they making the appropriate recommendations?

*** A third party expert and / or outside vendor will prove less of a liability to hire for these new NY State Cooling Tower Inspections. ***