Legionella discovered at McHenry Villa

“Legionnaires lawyer Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for clients harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires’ disease at McHenry Villa, you might have cause to file a lawsuit. Call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.
An Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) investigation uncovered Legionellabacteria and structural issues with the plumbing system at the McHenry Villa Senior Living facility in McHenry. Three residents were sickened with Legionnaires’ disease in early November, and one of them – former McHenry city mayor Donald P. Doherty – died Nov. 21.
The Legionnaires’ disease outbreak was the third to affect McHenry County in 2018.
The IDPH sent a notice of violation to McHenry Villa regarding the sanitary hazard in its plumbing system.
“Our concern is the health and safety of the McHenry Villa residents,” IDPH director Nirav D. Shah said in a press release. “Because this community is similar to an independently operated apartment complex, implementation of water-use restrictions is not feasible, and correction of the violations may not be possible while residents are occupying the building. IDPH is notifying McHenry Villa of the violations so the owners can remediate the plumbing system and provide a healthy living community for residents and staff.”
McHenry Villa executive director Noreen Zaio said that after consulting with IDPH, McHenry County officials and McHenry Villa’s water-quality management company, evacuation of residents was not necessary.
“We take this situation very seriously,” Zaio said. “Upon learning of the test results, McHenry Villa took immediate action and is implementing a remediation plan as directed by the state.”
In a letter to residents, McHenry Villa officials said they are committed to fully complying with IDPH’s directives and guidance and will inform residents and staff of their response. Possible actions that may be taken, according to IDPH public information officer Melaney Arnold, include:
  • hiring a consultant
  • adding or replacing filters on showers, sink faucets and fixtures
  • reviewing cooling tower operations.
Former mayor passes
Doherty, 91, died of Legionella at the JourneyCare CareCenter hospice facility in Woodstock, his son told the Chicago Tribune. A lifelong resident of McHenry, Doherty contracted Legionnaire’s disease at McHenry Villa, where he had been living. Doherty was mayor of McHenry from 1961 to 1973.
The conditions of the other two residents sickened were not released.
IDPH said all three patients had outside exposure, and two of the three could have been exposed at Centegra Hospital-McHenry, part of Northwestern Medicine, something hospital officials say is not likely. It’s unknown if Doherty was one of the two believed to have been exposed at Centegra.
No stranger to Legionella
The first cluster of the year in McHenry County infected 12 people in June and July. Six of the 12 were believed to have been sickened within a 1½-mile radius of the intersection of Route 176 and Walkup Road in Crystal Lake, but the source never was identified.
Three people were affected during the second outbreak in October. The source of that outbreak was believed to be the Johnsburg Walmart Supercenter.
There were four cases of Legionnaires’ disease in McHenry County in 2017, nine in 2016, and three in 2015.
The county is located in northeastern Illinois, along the Wisconsin state line. According to the 2010 census, it had a population of 308,760, making it the sixth-most populous county in Illinois.”
Sources: By Dennis Armstrong

Preparing Cooling Towers and Heating Boilers For Winter Operation: Part 1

This is that in-between time of year when facilities managers are preparing both heating boilers and cooling towers for winter operation.  Here are two checklists that will assist in getting these systems ready for cold weather operation and help avoid unexpected equipment failure.


Fall is an excellent time to prepare cooling towers for the rigors of winter operation.  Here is a list of major maintenance items to take care of:

Change the gear box oil.  Fresh oil now should get you through until spring.

  1. Replace the V-belts.  There is no good way to tell when a belt will fail.  If you replace the belts now, you can be reasonably sure you will not face an emergency change-out in mid January.
  2. Clean the hot water distribution system and the cold water collection basins.  Debris has no doubt accumulated during the warm, dry months.  A thorough cleaning eliminates the risk of clogged filters and strainers and the risk of biological growth.
  3. Make sure all distribution nozzles are clean and in place.  Proper water distribution is even more important in winter than in summer.
  4. Inspect the distribution system and cold water collection basin and seal all leaks thoroughly.  These leaks are probably the most common cause of serious ice damage in the winter.
  5. Balance water flow so that all fan cells (on towers serving a common process) receive equal amounts of incoming water.  This balance assures efficient, trouble free service.
  6. Verify that all motor control circuits are properly operating, particularly if you use fan reversal to control ice buildup.
  7. If your system includes a bypass valve to divert water around the cooling tower fill, operate this valve and make sure that it provides complete shutoff.
  8. Repair any worn or damaged access devices, such as doors, ladders or stairways.  Proper winter operation demands free access to the cooling tower.  Access devices should be made safe for operating personnel.

Image result for cooling tower in winter

By – Mark Botsford, CWT



Legionella Found At All But 3 West Orange Schools

Legionella Found At All But 3 West Orange Schools: Officials

WEST ORANGE, NJ — First they were found at town hall. Then they were found at a half-dozen other municipal buildings. Now, less than six weeks after Legionella bacteria was discovered in the water at Redwood Elementary, West Orange officials have found additional samples of the hazardous pathogen at all but three of the district’s schools.

On Wednesday, West Orange Public School District administrators provided an update on testing that’s been taking place at all 12 schools for Legionella bacteria, the organisms that lead to Legionnaire’s Disease, a severe form of pneumonia commonly found in found in potable and non-potable water systems.

Test results for each individual school can be seen here. Read Superintendent Jeff Rutzky’s letter to parents and guardians here. Updated district statements about the testing can be seen here.

The district initially began testing for the bacteria at Redwood Elementary School last month after a parent whose child was attending summer camp there reported that her child was sick with what the doctor said could be Legionnaire’s Disease. The child was ultimately determined not to have the disease, Rutzky said.

However, officials began remediation efforts at the school after test results showed four of 15 samples had “very low levels of Legionella bacteria” on Aug. 14.


On Aug. 30, New Jersey American Water tested sinks and water fountains at Redwood Elementary School for coliform bacteria. The results were satisfactory in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act standards, school officials said.

Even though the Redwood Elementary School samples met the standard, OMEGA Environmental was hired to perform a disinfection procedure using a hyper-chlorinated solution on Sept. 10 and 11, officials said.

The procedure included:

  • “chlorine is pumped into the hot water heater and remains in the hot water tank for four hours to eliminate any bacteria”
  • “chlorine is then pumped through the hot water piping system and remains in the system for fourteen hours to eliminate any bacteria”
  • “chlorinated water is drained from the hot water tank and hot water piping system and flushed with fresh water”
  • “water samples are drawn and retested after the hyper-chlorination procedure to verify that the water again meets the Safe Drinking Water Act standards”

Officials also took the following steps at Redwood Elementary:

  • “installing filters on the water sources that tested positive”
  • “replacing faucets in the affected areas”
  • “proactively and temporarily covering all water fountains despite the fact that the Legionella bacteria only presents a risk from exposure to airborne droplets and not from drinking affected water”
  • “removing, cleaning and sanitizing all aerators (screens) in all rooms”
  • “where possible, changes in the plumbing systems will be done to minimize the potential for future bacterial growth”

West Orange school officials then began the process of testing the district’s other facilities for Legionella, including all 12 schools, the Central Office and the Bus Depot.

Samples for Legionella bacteria were positive in the Administration Building and all schools except Liberty Middle School, Betty Maddalena Early Learning Center, and Kelly Elementary School, officials announced Wednesday.

“All affected schools will undergo the same remediation as Redwood Elementary School by Omega Environmental, followed by retesting by Garden State Environmental,” school administrators said. “Water bottles should be available at all schools until testing and remediation is completed.”

To complete the process, the remediation is being carried out on weekends, administrators said.

The remediation schedule follows below:

  • Mt. Pleasant had the chlorination process completed on Sept. 19 and was retested for the Legionella bacteria on Sept. 24.
  • St. Cloud had the chlorination process completed on Sept. 22 and will be retested on Sept. 27.
  • Hazel will have the chlorination process completed on Sept. 28 and 29. Retesting will be done approximately four days after the chlorination process.
  • Gregory, Washington and the Administration Building will have the chlorination process completed on Oct. 5 and 6, Oct. 12 and 13 or Oct. 19 and 20. Retesting will be done approximately four days after the chlorination process.
  • Edison and Roosevelt will have the chlorination process completed on Oct. 26 or 27 or Nov. 2 and 3. Retesting will be done approximately four days after the chlorination process.
  • West Orange High School will be completed on Nov. 8 to 11. Retesting will be done approximately four days after the chlorination process.

“It is important to note that there are no confirmed cases of Legionella in West Orange,” Superintendent Rutzky said Wednesday. “We will continue to be diligent in our approach to remediate the water sources that tested positive for Legionella bacteria and proactive in completing the process as quickly as possible.”

School district administrators have been coordinating their responses with workers at the town Health Department, who have been conducting their own Legionella testing and remediation at several buildings, including Town Hall, Lafayette Park, O’Connor Park, Fire Headquarters, Firehouse No. 2, Firehouse No. 4 and Police Headquarters.

West Orange Director of Health Theresa DeNova previously provided the following information about Legionnaire’s Disease:

“It is not contagious, person to person… it is not airborne… it cannot be contracted by drinking or touching water… and the way it is contracted is by inhaling contaminated water mist.”

New Jersey American Water previously released the following statement about the situation in West Orange:

“Providing safe water is New Jersey American Water’s number one priority and a responsibility we share with all our customers. Although the drinking water we deliver is treated and meets all federal and state water quality standards and requirements, the quality of that water can change once it leaves our pipes and enters domestic plumbing systems. When we became aware of the issues the Township of West Orange experienced with Legionella in the plumbing infrastructure of its Municipal Township Building, we began proactively working with Mayor Parisi, his staff, health officials and town consultants to provide expert guidance and assistance as the town works to remedy this situation. We are committed to helping the Township resolve this issue as they work to disinfect and upgrade their building systems to ensure a healthy and safe work environment for their employees.”


Cost Savings with Evaporation Credits

Cost Savings with Evaporation Credits
With a growing desire to conserve energy, water and other resources, a commonly overlooked option for cost savings is Cooling Tower Evaporation Credits. With the growing costs of fresh water supply and sanitary service, taking advantage of evaporation credits can provide a cost savings towards plant operations budget. Evaporation is calculated by recording water make-up to the cooling tower, then subtracting water discharge via blow down. The difference is water lost to Evaporation. This allows for savings on water that would normally be paid for as sanitary waste.

It is suggested that the customer check with local water authorities to ensure that the water meters and method of recording will be acceptable to obtain the evaporation credits.

Example:  A 300-Ton cooling tower running at 4 cycles of concentration uses 1,000,000 gallons of make-up water for a cooling season. The blow down water to sanitary drain at 4 cycles would be 250,000 gallons. This would allow for a savings on sewer charges for 750,000 gallons of water that is evaporated through the cooling process.

For more information about your specific Cooling Tower System and how you can potentially realize Cost Savings thru Evaporation Credits, please get in touch with local Metro Representative.


Protection Against Legionella: Cooling Tower Requirements 2018

Resources for cooling tower owners, operators, water treatment consultants and inspectors are provided below. Please refer to Title: Subpart 4.1 – Cooling Towers for a full listing of regulatory requirements.

Cooling Tower Registry

Notification of Exceedance

Cooling tower owners must notify the local health department within 24 hours of receipt of a Legionella culture sample result that exceeds 1,000 colony forming units per milliliter (CFU/mL). Owners must also notify the public of test results in the manner determined by the local health department or the New York State Department of Health (Subpart 4-1.6 and Appendix 4-A).

Maintenance Program and Plan

Prior to the initial start-up of a newly installed cooling tower, the owner must obtain a Maintenance Program and Plan for each cooling tower. Each active cooling tower must have an updated Maintenance Program and Plan. (Subpart 4-1.4). This plan must be developed in accordance with ASHRAE Standard 188-2015 Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems p. 7-8 (Available for viewing at Read-Only Versions of ASHRAE Standards under Current Popular Standards). You may use this template for the maintenance program and plan.

Legionella Culture Analysis

All Legionella culture analyses must be performed by a laboratory certified by the New York State Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (ELAP) (Subpart 4-1.5). Please contact ELAP@health.ny.gov or call (518) 485-5570 to find a certified laboratory.


Any person who disinfects a cooling tower must be a certified commercial pesticide applicator or pesticide technician who is qualified to apply biocide in a cooling tower. Only biocide products registered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for use in cooling towers or pesticidal devices produced in a USEPA registered establishment may be used in disinfection (Subpart 4-1.7 and Appendix 4-A).

Variances and Waivers

An owner may submit a written application to a local health department for a variance for a period not exceeding 90 days from any provision. It must include an explanation of why the variance will not present a danger to public health (Subpart 4-1.11(a)).

The New York State Department of Health may issue a waiver for any provision of the regulation if staff are satisfied that the waiver would not present a danger to public health. Waivers may also be revoked upon determination that the waiver may present a danger to public health (Subpart 4-1.11(b)). To apply for a waiver, please email cooling.tower@health.ny.gov.

Inspections and Certification

All cooling towers must be inspected prior to seasonal start-up and every 90 days while in use. Cooling towers also need to be inspected following maintenance (Subpart 4-1.8(a)).

All cooling towers must obtain a certification by November 1 of each year.  The certification should attest that the cooling tower has a maintenance program and plan, and that all activities within that plan or required by the regulation were implemented (Subpart 4-1.8b). You may use this template for the annual certification documentation.

More Information

Questions or comments: cooling.tower@health.ny.gov

Sources: https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/legionella/cooling_towers.htm

Top 5 NYC “End of Cooling Season” Tower Considerations

 1 – Cooling Tower Cleaning

First and foremost, for a seasonal tower, ensure you have completed both Cooling Tower Cleanings/Disinfections required by the Department of Health’s (DOH) calendar year (November 1st through October 31st).  One should have been completed at start-up, and the 2nd can be completed anytime before shutdown.  You do NOT need to wait until shutdown to complete the 2nd cleaning.

2 – Routine Maintenance

Ensure Routine Maintenance records have been completed twice during the current DOH calendar year.  Routine Maintenance must follow your MPP, which should be based on your towers manufacturer recommendations and should include items like:

Adequate System Start- up                                                         Adequate System Shut-down

Inspect Integrity of Tower Structure                                       Inspect Fill Material& Drift Eliminators

Inspect Distribution & Operating Level                                   Inspect Fan, Fan Belts & Drives

Clean Spray Heads/Distribution Nozzles                                Inspect Electrical Wiring & Components

Remove/Clean Tower & Circ. Pump Strainers                      Grease/Lube Bearings as required

Inspect Tower for Operational Abnormalities

3 – Annual Certification

All towers MUST file an Annual Certification with the Department of Buildings (DOB) each year by November 1st.  Failure to do so will automatically result in a $2,500 fine from the DOB.  This certification must be uploaded to the DOB/DOH CT portal.

4 – Cooling Tower Compliance Binder

The end of the cooling season is also a good time to review your Cooling Tower Compliance Binder.  Building staff should ensure that each of the following required sections are populated correctly:

  • MPP – is your current year MPP in your binder?
  • Cooling Tower Cleanings – do you have 2 certificates of cleaning/disinfection in your binder?
  • Legionella Samples – do you have a sample result from start-up, and every 90 days thereafter?
  • Dip Slide Results – do you have bacteria dip slide results from each week during the season?
  • C&B Records – do you have a weekly summary of all chemicals added to your tower?
  • Water Quality Testing – do you have records of pH, Temperature, Conductivity and Biocide residual numbers three times each week and once a week visual inspection?
  • Routine Maintenance – do you have 2 certificates of the required routine maintenance on the tower?
  • Annual Certification – is your Annual Certification in your binder?

5 – Winterize Feed Equipment

Finally, as water treatment experts, we know that at tower shutdown, many Mechanical companies neglect to properly winterize the chemical feed equipment associated with their tower.  It is imperative to ensure all water is drained out of all tower associated piping to avoid freezing.  Outdoor chemical feed stations should be moved in-door if possible.  Pumps should be properly shut down and controllers should be unplugged for the winter.  Feed packages with sensitive probes for pH, temperature and conductivity need to be remove and winterized as well. This is very important to avoid broken equipment the following spring.

The Metro Group handles all of the above for our customers.  If you have questions about any of the services above, or need to add additional services to your current contact, please contact us at 718-729-7200 or sales@metrogroupinc.com


Microbiological Control in Cooling Towers

From the water treatment industry’s perspective, the practice of controlling the proliferation of microbial fouling in HVAC/Industrial cooling water systems has traditionally been focused on keeping algae, slime and fungus in check.  Without proper control, organisms will colonize, grow, and turn into biomass and biofilm.  Displaced biomass can lead to restrictions in flow, loss of heat transfer and other serious water-borne problems.  In addition, a longer-term challenge is that accumulated bacterial slimes (biofilm) will lead to microbiologically influenced corrosion, metal loss and system failure.  Also, due to recent regulatory developments, the industry now has another objective to contend with.  This is to reduce the potential formation of disease-bearing organisms such as Legionella Pneumophila.  So, effective microbial control is at the center of overall cooling system performance as well the health of building occupants.

Cooling tower owners have numerous tools at their disposal.  These tools include application of chemical biocides, cooling tower chemical disinfections, and the selective use of mechanical support methods.  Among the mechanical support methods owners can rely upon we find deck covers (to shield sunlight), recirculating water filters (sand or media) to remove suspended solids continuously, basin cleaning filters to keep pans deposit free, and even air-intake screens to prevent additional dirt loading.  Cooling water biocides are applied routinely and typically involve the use of two different product categories – oxidizing and non-oxidizing micro-biocides.  These materials are designed to destroy existing organisms and also prevent new ones from growing.  The strategy of using two separate chemical micro-biocides is to ensure that cellular destruction is complete, and that strains do not develop immunity to resist treatments.

Owners working with industry professionals have numerous monitoring tools at their disposal.  Cooling tower inspections should be coupled with the use of microbiological testing. Micro testing is part of effective Water Management Plan development and includes testing for halogen reserves, bacteria and cellular activity, as well as specific testing for Legionella.  Best practice might also incorporate the use of bio-film detection strategies.  In conclusion, microbiological control of Industrial and HVAC cooling waters requires careful planning and resource allocation.  An appropriate selection of the tools now available to building owners can be selected and implemented to prevent problems, preserve capital equipment, and ensure the health of building occupants.


John D. Caloritis, CWT

Technology Director

The Metro Group, Inc

Image result for cooling tower

Legionnaires’ Disease Sickens 11 in Upper Manhattan

By Zoe Greenberg

“An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease has sickened 11 people in Upper Manhattan, 10 of whom have been hospitalized, according to city health officials.

Eight people remained in the hospital on Thursday.

“This disease is very treatable with antibiotics,” Dr. Mary Bassett, the city’s health commissioner, said in a statement. “I encourage anyone with symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease to seek care early.”

The city’s Department of Health said it was “actively investigating” the cases, but had not yet determined the source of the bacteria. A spokesman for Mark Levine, a City Council member who represents the area and who was briefed on the outbreak, said inspectors took water samples from buildings between 145th and 155th Streets. While the city waits for the test results from the 20 cooling-tower systems that were sampled, it has already treated the towers’ water, said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, the deputy commissioner of disease control.

The cluster of people infected all live in Upper Manhattan and are older than 50, health officials said.

Three of the 11 cases were identified on Thursday, and that number could rise.

“We may continue to see additional cases,” Dr. Bassett said Thursday night at a community meeting at Saint Luke’s African Methodist Episcopal Church on Amsterdam Avenue that was held to discuss the outbreak and answer questions.

Legionnaires’ disease is a serious type of pneumonia commonly caused by breathing in water vapor that contains Legionella bacteria. The disease is most common in the summer because the bacteria thrives in warm water, said Dr. Waleed Javaid, the director of infection prevention and control at Mount Sinai Downtown Network.

Some of the most common culprits in the spread of the disease are cooling towers, humidifiers, hot water tanks and condensers in large air-conditioning units. Whirlpool spas and hot tubs are also sometimes sources of the disease.

In 2015, contaminated cooling towers were the source of a Legionnaires’ outbreak that killed 12 people and sickened more than 120. Legionnaires’ can sometimes contaminate smaller water supplies, as well. In April, three people were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ after the water supply at the Co-Op City complex in the Bronx was contaminated, and one person died.

City health officials said this is the year’s first “cluster” outbreak, in which people across different buildings have fallen ill. Every year, between 200 and 500 people are diagnosed with the disease in the city.

“During a cluster, we’re way, way, way more aggressive than when there’s no evidence of disease transmission from that tower,” Dr. Daskalakis said.

He added that individuals did not need to change their behavior.

“People should drink the water, take showers, bathe as usual, cook as usual, but just be vigilant and persistent and don’t wait,” if flu-like symptoms occur, he said.

“If a person is asymptomatic, they don’t have to worry or panic,” Dr. Javaid said. “Panic is not helpful in this situation if you’re not ill.”

By Thursday, fliers in English and Spanish hung throughout Upper Manhattan. They included a list of frequently asked questions about Legionnaires and a notice to residents: “The risk to most people is low, but if you have flu-like symptoms, please see your medical provider right away.”

Diana Dondrue, 32, said she saw city workers handing out fliers, but she was not overly worried.

Joarty Román, 37, said she was unaware of the outbreak, and was concerned for her elderly parents.

“They should make it more public,” Ms. Román said. “My parents are elderly and I take care of them, so this is something that I should be aware of.”

Mariana Alfaro contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A18 of the New York edition with the headline: Legionnaires’ Disease Sickens 11 in Upper Manhattan. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
Sources: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/12/nyregion/legionnaires-disease-nyc.html

When Going Green Goes Too Far: Part 2


  1. With decreased efficiencies due to scaling, water usage will significantly increase. NOT GREEN.
  2. If one were to perform energy studies, the increased load is alarming. More power and utilities…NOT GREEN


  1. One word. Legionella! The dreaded “L word.” Now, legionella can happen in any system with any treatment program. But with a responsible biocide program, the risk is greatly reduced, and better controlled.

If someone were to contract legionella from a cooling tower for which the owner opted to use a non-proven chemical free form of treatment over a proven EPA registered biocide approach…they will have some tough questions to answer.

If legionella and/or HPC levels get too high, per state and industry guidelines, an EPA registered biocide must be used to resolve the issue. Now we are back to using chemicals. Almost seems like a reactive approach, instead of a proactive or preventative approach.

Causing an environmental and health concern…NOT GREEN!

Instead of jumping to chemical free to “go green”, sit down with your water treater to learn how Chemical Water Treatment is in itself a Green technology!

Make a plan to implement automation to help decrease chemical feed. Work together to increase system efficiencies and reduce water by cycling your cooling tower at its peak efficiency.

Chemical water treatment is proven effective, and when properly administered, truly a Green solution that reduces costs, helps the environment and counts for LEED credits!

When Going Green, Goes too Far…

Part 1

Of course, we all want to be as environmentally responsible as we can with our facility cooling systems and treatment programs.

I can see the attraction for going chemical free. But can you take it too far?  Is it necessary to go chemical free to be “green?”

Chemical free forms of treatment have been around the industry for years. Many of these have not been proven or do not have a steady track record of positive results.  Some almost seem like a late-night TV gimmicky advertisement, promising the world!

We have seen some of these systems work “ok” in specific environments and applications. Great!  But we have also seen damage to systems, decreased operating efficiencies, and in some cases, causing environmental concerns such as legionella. Very concerning.

Each of these concerns are the opposite of going green.  Ironic, don’t you think?

To contact us: https://metrogroupinc.com/contact/