New York City’s skyline is distinguished by thousands of rooftop water tanks. While they make for interesting architectural conversation pieces, the 5,000 to 10,000-gallon tanks actually serve a vital purpose. Since the New York City street water pressure isn’t sufficient to supply water to apartments above the sixth floor, water is pumped up to roof tanks for safe keeping until gravity delivers it where it’s needed—for cooking, bathing, or putting out potentially deadly fires. With all that riding on them, it’s imperative that the tanks are kept safe and well-maintained.
To that end, various city agencies have regulations covering the proper inspection, maintenance, and standards of care for the city’s rooftop water tanks. Those regulations changed recently however, and it’s important for co-op and condo administrators and residents alike to be aware of the alterations to the rule so they can not only keep their buildings’ water supply safe and healthy, but avoid penalties and fines as well.
New Rules for Safety
While the city’s roof tanks serve many functions, it’s the concern about the quality of drinking water delivered to tenants that compelled the New York City Council to enact the “Drinking Water Tank Inspection” law earlier this year.
On February 11, 2009, the council voted unanimously to amend the city’s administrative code to include a new local law requiring building owners or their agents to inspect their drinking water tanks at least once a year and keep the results of the inspections on file for at least five years. Inspection records must be made available to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and building residents must be made aware of their right to inspect the records as well. The law also creates civil liability for non-compliance with the annual inspection schedule and the new notification requirements.
Why the Change?
The reason for the new inspection requirements comes down to safety. If the structural integrity of a water tank is compromised, birds or rodents may enter the tank and contaminate the water supply. Also, sediment, algae and unhealthy bacteria can build up inside a tank and present a serious health risk to building residents.