Rensselaer County Becomes First County in State to Reach 100 Percent Registered Cooling Tower Compliance, Helping to Battle Legionella Disease

Rensselaer County has achieved an important distinction, with the county’s Health Department becoming the first in the state to reach 100 percent compliance for registered cooling towers, said Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin and Public Health Director Mary Fran Wachunas.

Cooling towers have been linked to development of Legionella disease, and the state compliance program is designed to battle spread of the disease.

“This is good news for Rensselaer County, and shows our team in the Health Department are able to quickly and effectively respond to health situations when needed,” said McLaughlin.

On October 1, the county became the first local Health Department in the state overseeing more than 100 cooling towers to earn 100 percent compliance in the state’s online registry. Compliance includes sampling and inspection data, proper certifications, and other issues.

The county set a standard by earning the 100 compliance. Statewide compliance across the state reached 70 percent in 2019. Compliance by counties with more than 100 towers was between 50 percent to 84 percent this summer.

Local Health Department’s are able to utilize data taken weekly from the state Health Department’s Bureau of Water cooling tower registry. The registry helps evaluate compliance status of towers in each county.

Wachunas credited county Health Department employee Sophia D’Agostino with leading the compliance effort in Rensselaer County.

“Our team worked hard to ensure a high level of compliance, and we are very proud to be the first in the state to reach 100 percent compliance. In particular, Sophia went above and beyond to lead the successful effort,” said Wachunas.

The 100 percent compliance for cooling towers was noted in a recent edition of the state Health Department’s “In the Field of Environmental Health”.