News Feature | February 6, 2017

Are New Water Regs Needed After NY Legionnaires' Outbreak?

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

New York state may be facing a serious threat from Legionnaires’ disease, and public health advocates say tightening water system regulations is a vital part of solving the problem.

“Potentially deadly cases of Legionnaires' disease are spreading through New York because health officials are focused on stopping airborne releases from cooling towers, rather than looking to public water supplies,” News and Tribune reported, citing famed water activist Erin Brockovich.

Activists point to the threat posed by so-called “superbugs,” according to the report:

"I don't think we should be taking the cheap route when it comes to the public health and welfare," Brockovich said in an interview... She noted that the battle against Legionella and other "superbugs" requires a substantial investment of taxpayer dollars.

A new report from the Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires' disease raised serious concern about the problem in New York.

“In 2016 alone, 718 residents of the Empire State contracted Legionnaires’ disease–making up 14 percent of the United States’ total number of Legionnaires’ disease cases,” Outbreak News Today reported, citing the study.

Water activists say regulatory change are essential.

“New Yorkers are needlessly dying from their public water systems, and the stark truth is that more people will get seriously ill and die if the state’s current regulations to prevent Legionnaires’ disease are not changed to address the real issues that exist with the water supply,” Brockovich said, per Outbreak News Today.

Daryn Cline, spokesperson for the Alliance, explained which regulatory are possible.

“Programs can be put in place to more effectively disinfect our public water systems, upgrade our water system infrastructure to reduce increasing biofilm risks, publicly announce system failures and events that trigger bacterial releases within 24 hours, investigate all cases of Legionnaires' disease using CDC tools for single cases, positively identify the source of Legionella after the investigation,” Cline said, per WAMC.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Regulations And Legislation Solutions Center.