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January 7, 2009

Drinking Water Tank (Roof Tank) Inspections – City Council’s Committee On Health Proposes Transparency of Water Tank Inspection Records

On January 8, 2009, the Committee on Health of the New York City Council will hold a hearing on an amendment to the Administrative Code of the City of New York entitled “Drinking Water Tanks Inspections” (Proposed Int. No. 408-A). This amendment would direct building owners to have their domestic drinking water tanks (“Roof Tanks”) inspected annually, compel them to submit inspection results to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (“DOHMH”), and remove the barrier to the viewing of inspection results by others. Additionally, the proposed amendment would require DOHMH to make periodic unannounced inspections of drinking water tanks to ensure compliance with the Health Code dealing with drinking water tanks.

Currently, DOHMH — the government agency responsible for ensuring New York City’s municipal water supply is in full compliance with Federal, State and City standards and regulations — requires building owners to inspect drinking water tanks annually but does not require the owners to file the inspection records with DOHMH. Rather, building owners are required only to keep the inspection records in their own files for five years and make them available to DOHMH only upon request by DOHMH. Furthermore, the current Health Code prevents the inspection records from view by anyone other than DOHMH; not even a subpoena can bring them into view by tenants of a building. Specifically, Article 141 of the New York City Health Code states that the inspection records of drinking water tanks “shall not be subject to inspection by others or to subpoena… “ The proposed legislation, in part, would end the secrecy of the inspection records and bring transparency to them.

As background to the proposed regulation, the Health Committee, chaired by Council Member Joel Rivera, states that “New York City has been using water tanks (Roof Tanks) as part of their drinking water supply systems since the 19th century……the water coming into the tanks may contain various substances and the tanks often accumulate ‘anywhere from a quarter inch to an inch of muddy sediment’. This residue in the water can present a health risk, particularly to certain populations such as the elderly and those with immune deficiencies.” The proposed legislation creates an enforcement mechanism for the annual inspection requirement and opens up the inspection records for public view.

Associations of building owners, tenants groups, the DOHMH and other interested members of the community are invited to testify at the hearing. For more information about this proposal and the January 8, 2009 hearing, please read the Report by the New York City Council’s Committee on Health pertaining to the proposed “Drinking Water Tank Inspections” legislation. View Report

About Fred Smith Plumbing & Heating Co., Inc.

Fred Smith Plumbing & Heating Co., Inc. is New York’s premier provider of comprehensive plumbing and heating solutions to the co-op and condo community. Services include plumbing, heating, sewer and drain cleaning, high pressure steam, HVAC, pump repair, roof tank cleaning, water filtration, and private repairs. From basic apartment repairs to building wide system upgrades to ongoing maintenance, Fred Smith Plumbing & Heating delivers a level of service and professionalism rarely seen anymore. For more information, please visit:

About Culligan New York

Culligan of New York is a Fred Smith Plumbing & Heating Co., Inc. affiliated company that provides water purification services to New York City and Long Island, New York. An exclusive Culligan dealership, Culligan of New York offers drinking water filtration products, whole building (central) filtration, ultra pure water systems, and other purification systems and services for residential, commercial, and industrial applications.

For information about Fred Smith Plumbing & Heating’s comprehensive drinking water tank inspection and cleaning service, please refer to our Roof Tank Cleaning Services. (

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