Since Legionella bacteria are present in almost every ground and surface water, it should be noted that the vast majority of cooling towers will have some level of the bacteria in their circulating water. The issue then becomes how best to eliminate exposure to humans. As an Owner/Operator of a cooling tower it is highly recommended to have a regular monitoring protocol in place to test for Legionella bacteria and to have updated records of this testing. Regular cleaning and chemical treatment should be utilized as needed to manage the levels of bacteria in the system.
Monitoring, cleaning and treating your cooling tower water are only half of the best practices to reduce risk of causing a Legionnaires’ outbreak. The second half of the equation is to keep as much water from escaping outside of the cooling tower structure as possible. Proper cooling tower upkeep via quick visual inspections to look for displaced drift eliminators and louvers is important. However, many cooling towers are not utilizing the most advanced drift eliminator or cellular inlet louver technology available in the market and, as such, may be exposing Owners/Operators to higher risk, and liability, of causing a Legionella outbreak via their cooling towers.
Brentwood recommends utilizing the most efficient drift eliminators and inlet louvers commercially available in order to reduce the risk of Legionella contaminated water from getting outside of a cooling tower. In addition, to utilize the most up to date and highest level of legionella bacteria containment, it is highly recommended to have these products made with a commercially available anti-microbial material to better reduce possible Legionella discharge to the surroundings. Utilizing older, less efficient, drift eliminator and inlet louver technology exposes an Owner/Operator to much higher liability risk, and possibly negligence, if a Legionella outbreak is caused. Implementing inexpensive measures such as those mentioned here are common sense, best practice, precautions for cooling tower Owners and Operators to apply in order to reduce their risk and liability exposure.