April 24, 2017

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UPDATE: Water Tank Compliance for Drinking Water Safety

Last month, we reported about compliance issues regarding regulations on cleaning and inspecting rooftop water tanks.  It appears that compliance may get a little tougher starting in June.

As first reported in the New York Times on April 18, city health officials are considering stronger oversight for regulations of rooftop water tanks.  The NYC Board of Health is scheduled to vote on the new regulations on June 9.  The proposed regulations would require building owners to submit annual inspection records directly to the city.  Currently, building owners are only required to make records available to the Board of Health on request and only going back five years.

Also, building owners are required to post a public notice that the results of the inspection are available for the residents upon request.  This notice is to be posted in an easily accessible location for the residents and empowers the residents themselves to take part in the enforcement of the inspection provisions.

Initially, health officials were satisfied with the current oversight.  But surveys conducted by the health department have found that 60% of building owners are not in compliance.  Some City Council members are calling for stricter oversight.  Even Public Advocate Letitia James is asking for random field testing.

Health officials insist there is no risk to the public.  A statement from the department stated: “Though there is no evidence that drinking water tanks pose a meaningful risk to public health, we are proposing these additional actions to help reassure New Yorker’s that the city’s drinking water is safe and encourage greater compliance with the Health Code.”

Much of the recent hysteria on this issue began in January with an investigation conducted by the New York Times that found some contamination of tanks.  But health officials were quick to criticize the investigation citing 534 clean samples taken over the past several decades.

Most of the residential cooperative and condominium buildings that Fred Smith services maintain and clean their roof tanks regularly. Perhaps an increased effort on the part of the Health Department to randomly check NYC buildings for compliance with the annual inspection requirement would be sufficient.

Whatever the City decides about tougher requirements, it is important to remember that contaminants may enter the roof tanks between annual inspections and cleanings.  For those tenants who want a final barrier of protection of their drinking water, we recommend installing a simple point-of- use water filtration devise at the kitchen faucet. For buildings interested in a whole building solution, that is available as well. Our Culligan affiliate can help tenants with cost effective drinking water filtration solutions.

We will continue to monitor this important issue.  Check back frequently as we update this blog with the latest developments.

By Philip Kraus – President – Fred Smith Plumbing & Heating Co.

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