Statement of Basis and Purpose
Administrative Code § 17-194 provides that any owner of a building that has a water tank as part of its drinking water supply system must have it inspected at least once annually and requires the inspection to comply with applicable provisions of the New York City Health Code (“Health Code”). Inspection results must be recorded in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner of the Department.
Article 141 of the Health Code regulates certain aspects of the purity and sanitary condition of the City’s potable water supply, including roof top water storage tanks. Water for thousands of New York City buildings is kept in these types of tanks. Health Code §141.07 (“Building Drinking Water Storage Tanks”) requires that these tanks be inspected annually and that the person in control of a building using water storage tanks keep copies of the inspection records and make them available to the Department upon request.
Owners of buildings with water tanks are required to report annually to the Department the fact that the tanks have been inspected. Requiring annual reporting promotes building owner compliance with the inspection mandate and facilitates the Department’s ability to monitor compliance. Data from these reports will be made publically available.
Administrative Code provisions. Administrative Code § 17-194, enacted as Local Law 11 for the year 2009, provides for the annual inspections of water tanks, with results to be recorded in accordance with Department rules, maintained for five years from the date of inspection, and made available to the Department within five business days of receiving a request. Administrative Code § 17-194(e) allows for penalties of $250 to $1,000 per violation for violations of Administrative Code § 17-194 (b), and for a maximum of $250 per violation for violations of Administrative Code § 17-194 (c). This proposed rule would set the penalties for these violations within those ranges.
§ 17-194(b) requires that tanks be inspected annually for compliance with applicable laws; results of inspections be recorded in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner; results of inspections be maintained for five years; and results of inspections be made available to the Department within five business days of being requested.
§ 17-194 (c) requires a building owner to post a notice in a building informing tenants how to obtain the results of inspections.
Health Code provisions. Health Code Article 141 (“Drinking Water”) supports maintenance of the purity and sanitary condition of the City’s potable water supply. Health Code §141.07 regulates building drinking water storage tanks as follows:
§141.07 (b) requires that owners and other persons in control of buildings serviced by water storage tanks annually inspect the physical condition of tanks and sample tank water for bacteriological quality.
§141.07(c) requires written reports of these inspections to be maintained for at least five years, and provided to the Department within five business days of a request by the Department. As of January 1, 2015, documentation of the inspections must be submitted to the Department, indicating whether the results of the inspection were satisfactory.
§141.07(d) requires a building owner to post a notice in a building informing tenants how to obtain the results of inspections.
§141.07(e) requires owners to immediately correct any unsanitary conditions identified in the water tank inspections; to clean the tank when indicated in accordance with Health Code §141.09; and to report any unsatisfactory findings in bacteriological sampling to the Department within 24 hours of receipt of such findings.
§141.07(f) provides that failure to submit reports to the Department when requested, or failure to submit the required annual documentation of an inspection, is prima facie evidence that no inspection was done at that time, and that separate violations may be issued for each year for which a required inspection report was not submitted.
§141.09 (“Building Water Tank Cleaning, Painting and Coating”) requires that when water storage tanks are cleaned, painted or coated, that work be done in accordance with industry standards, incorporating appropriate disinfection processes, by a duly qualified person or entity.
Department rules. In April 2015, the Department adopted a new Chapter 31 (“Drinking Water Tank Inspections”) of Title 24 RCNY. Section 31-02(a) of this new chapter requires building owners or their agents to report the results of the annual inspections of their drinking water storage tanks to the Department no later than January 15th of the following year.
The proposed rule amends Chapter 31 to establish a penalty schedule for sustained violations adjudicated at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings of the City of New York (OATH).
Notices of violations will be written, and penalties will be requested for each violation related to each drinking water tank in a building, for each year to which the violation applies. A new section 31-03 provides that penalties set forth in Appendix 31-A must be imposed for sustained violations. Violations related to record keeping will be $250, to be doubled to $500 if the owner or other person served with a notice of violation or a summons fails to appear at a hearing and is found in default. Penalties for failure to conduct inspections and to clean tanks, report conditions or otherwise correct violations are established at $500, and doubled if the owner or other person served with a notice of violation or a summons fails to appear at a hearing and is found in default to $1,000.
These amendments to Chapter 31 of Title 24 of the Rules of the City of New York are authorized under §§ 556 and 1043 of the Charter; § 17-194 of the Administrative Code; and §141.07 of the Health Code. Pursuant to § 556 of the Charter, the Department has jurisdiction to regulate all matters affecting health in the City, and specifically to supervise and regulate the purity and public health aspects of the water supplied in the City. Section 1043 of the Charter gives the Department rulemaking powers. Administrative Code § 17-194(b) and Health Code §141.07(b) authorize the Commissioner of the Department to adopt rules for annual water tank inspection recording and reporting.