The Plumbing Foundation Testifies at Hearing on Gas Inspection Bills

On Monday, September 13, 2021, Executive Director April McIver testified at the NYC Council Committee on Housing & Buildings Hearing on several pieces of legislation related to Local Law 152/2016 periodic gas inspections, including:
  • Intro. No. 2259 – extending the deadlines for buildings in Community Districts 2, 5, 7, 13, and 18 in each borough from December 31, 2021 to June 30, 2022.
  • Intro. No. 2321 – requiring the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) to create a hardship program for owners unable to comply with LL152 inspection due dates.
  • Intro. No. 2361 – requiring DOB to create a questionnaire related to LL152 inspections for owner feedback .
  • Intro. No. 2377 – extending the physical scope of gas piping inspections.
Executive Director McIver reiterated the industry’s position that LL152 inspections are critical safety inspections and any extension or hardship program considerations should be carefully balanced by the Council and DOB. Most importantly, the Plumbing Foundation raised several concerns with Intro. No. 2377, which seeks to clarify the scope of the inspection. While the plumbing industry commended the Council for taking important and necessary steps to clarify what needs to be part of the inspection, McIver stated that, respectively, the amendment falls short and rather creates further confusion. The Plumbing Foundation proposed instead that the bill is revised as follows:
  • The scope of the inspection should include all visually accessible gas piping except for inside individual dwelling units (i.e. residential tenant spaces) and the point of entry regardless of location.
  • Allow licensed master plumbers (LMPs) to certify that a building contains no gas piping, otherwise an owner has to hire a more costly registered design professional.
  • Require that only LMPs and those holding a gas work qualification from the Department be able to conduct inspections (to provide the 5 years’ experience requirement that DOB set forth in rule).
  • Require DOB to add to its reporting requirements any information collected by the combustible gas indicator / leak survey instrument that are needed to perform these inspections.
  • Clarify the actions that must be taken for immediately hazardous v. nonimmediately hazardous abnormal operating conditions (AOCs).
  • Reverse the DOB’s recent lowering of a civil penalty and rather increase it – a lower penalty will only incentivize continued non-compliance. We have seen lowering of penalties, by rule or law, in many safety related installations; from sprinklers to backflow devices and inspections of water tanks and cooling towers, noncompliance can lead to devastating effects.
Executive Director McIver urged the Council to take these proposed revisions into careful consideration. Chairman Robert Cornegy acknowledged that the industry will be part of the ongoing negotiations of the bill.

Pipecaster Issue 2: Vol. 44

Association of Contracting Plumbers Raises $116,000 for SFA CH. XXVIII

After having to cancel the 2020 Charity Golf Outing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Association of Contracting Plumbers of the City of New York, Inc. was ecstatic to hold its annual “Plumbing Industry Day” Charity Golf Outing on May 24, 2021. The charity chosen this year was the United States Special Forces Association (SFA) Montana XXVIII Chapter, also known as the “Devil’s Brigade Chapter.” The Devil Brigade’s Chapter, re-chartered in 2002, is a 501(c)(19) Non-Profit Veteran Service Organization and is one of 86 chapters around the world. It has 165 members. The Devil’s Brigade (also called The Black Devils and The Black Devils’ Brigade and Freddie’s Freighters, officially the 1st Special Service Force), was an elite, joint World War II American-Canadian commando unit organized in 1942 and trained at Fort William Henry Harrison near Helena, Montana in the United States. The brigade fought in the Aleutian Islands, Italy, and southern France before being disbanded in December 1944. The modern American and Canadian special operations forces trace their heritage to this unit. The Devil’s Brigade was known for their stealth and skill with the V-42 dagger which is central to the Special Forces Regimental Crest “Flash” worn on the Green Beret by Special Forces Soldiers. The Montana XXVIII Chapter hosts several retreats and events for veterans and has a scholarship program. The ACP is pleased to report that $116,000 was donated to this Chapter. Thank you to everyone who made the day a success!
Association of Contracting Plumbers Donation

L to Right: Tom Maniuszko, Chair of Charity Golf Outing Committee; John Nolan, US Army Special Forces Association Chapter 28; Rob Greenberg, ACP President; Terence O’Brien, ACP Executive Vice President & Senior Director of the Plumbing Foundation

Winners of the 2020-21 Leonard X. Farbman Memorial Scholarship

The 2021 winners of the Leonard X. Farbman Memorial Scholarship Program have been determined. Further information on the scholarship program can be found on the Association of Contracting Plumbers’ website (acpcny.org). Each recipient receives $5,000 a year towards a collegiate education. As a reminder, all scholarship applications are reviewed by an independent panel of educators and selections are based upon academic achievement, community service, and extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot come together at our annual Scholarship Award Reception to acknowledge and celebrate noteworthy academic achievements of these five young students. The Trustees of the Promotion Fund and the ACP Executive Board are happy to announce the following 2021 winners:
  • Alyssa Apuzzo
  • Olivia M. Dul
  • William T. Kender
  • Thomas S. Little
  • Marisa A. Lyons
Congratulations to all the winners, we wish you luck on your future endeavors!

The Plumbing Foundation Honors George Bassolino III

When one thinks of the New York City Plumbing Industry, no doubt George Bassolino III comes to mind. Having served on the Board of Directors of the Plumbing Foundation for nearly two decades, he has contributed to countless improvements in the plumbing industry. George Bassolino III is a third generation New York City Licensed Master Plumber. He is the President of G. Bassolino Plumbing Ltd since 2006. In 1933, at the age of twenty two, his grandfather, George Bassolino, Sr, started the original company. With George Bassolino IV in the process of obtaining his master plumbers license, the company has been blessed to expand into a fourth generation. George’s family has always been active in the industry’s plumbing trade associations. He has followed in their footsteps and volunteers his time to help promote the plumbing industry. George says it is a privilege to serve on several NYC Department of Buildings committees and subcommittees. The Plumbing Foundation is honored to bestow on George as an outgoing member of the Board of Directors the Lifetime Achievement Award for all of his hard work and dedication to the NYC plumbing industry, which no doubt will continue! George Bassolino III Honor The Plumbing Foundation is also enthusiastic about newly appointed director Anthony D. Altimari. Anthony currently serves as President and CEO of Marine Plumbing & Mechanical, Inc. As the Plumbing Foundation’s newest member of the Board of Directors, he joins with a track record for building businesses from the ground up and ensuring their economical growth and stellar reputations among industry contacts. Mr. Altimari gained scores of experience in this regard starting his own contracting business Altimari Construction Corp in 1995. He holds his master plumber’s license in both NYC and Westchester County, and is able to contribute to the Plumbing Foundation real world plumbing field intelligence. Having worked for Pace, WDF Inc., and Paramount Plumbing Company Inc. in business development, bidding management, and estimating respectively, Mr. Altimari is a seasoned asset to the Plumbing Foundation.

NOTICE: DEP Borough Records Offices Reopening

The NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued the following notice: To ensure the safety of our visitors during the COVID-19 public health emergency, our water and sewer records offices in all five boroughs will reopen one day per week BY APPOINTMENT ONLY beginning on May 24, 2021. To schedule an appointment, please call your local records office on Mondays or Tuesdays, as appointments are limited:
  • Manhattan (open Mondays): (212) 602-7550
  • Queens (open Tuesdays): (718) 520-2020/ 2022/ 2023
  • Brooklyn (open Wednesdays): (718) 923-2671/2675
  • Bronx (open Thursdays): (718) 466-3881
  • Staten Island (open Fridays): (718) 876-6820
Appointments will be scheduled for the following week on the day your local office is open. You must have an appointment to enter our records offices and you must wear a mask or face covering, as required by New York City rules. DEP has worked to minimize risks to both our visitors and our staff by installing protective plexiglass at all our counters and by discontinuing walk- in service to facilitate appropriate social distancing. For more information, please visit: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dep/news/200820/special-instructions-water-sewer-applications-permits

What’s The Difference?
LL152 Training And Operator Qualification

The Plumbing Foundation’s Gas Operator Qualification program, which was originally created for compliance with state regulations for inspections and maintenance of US DOT jurisdictional gas piping and in anticipation of similar requirements for LL152, is acceptable for purposes of LL152 inspections through GTI/ Northeast Gas Association, NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) approved course provider # 6T73. However, GOQ members need to be aware that the DOB also requires qualified gas piping system inspectors to have 5 years’ experience to conduct LL152 inspections. According to DOB, it is the obligation of the employing inspection entity and LMP to ensure that individuals performing these inspections possess the qualifications per the law and rule. DOB has stated that the employing LMP should request whatever documentation is necessary to verify experience. We are tracking the experience requirement through Attachment F of the GOQ membership application: www.plumbingfoundation.nyc/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Attachment-F-LL152-Experience-Affidavit-Fillable.pdf

UPDATED LL152 FAQs

Since LL152 periodic building gas system inspections began in early 2020, members of the industry have reached out to us with several questions. We have continued to update our FAQS (link below) to reflect the NYC Department of Buildings’ (DOB) response to these questions. Most recently, we have been asked: while performing the Local Law 152 inspection in an existing building, if the gas risers have drip tees at the base of the riser, do the tees need to be removed? DOB’s response is: The drip tees at the base of the riser can remain as they were required to be installed on older gas systems. For more information, please see our updated FAQs here: www.plumbingfoundation.nyc/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/FAQs-on-LL152-of-2016-revised-05.06.2021.pdf

DOB Card Replacement Policy

As the industry may be aware, the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) has a policy regarding the replacement of DOB-issued cards (e.g. DOB gas card) requiring an individual to file a Lost/Stolen Property report to the NYPD to replace a card. The Plumbing Foundation has concerns over this requirement and has issued a formal letter to the DOB Commissioner Melanie La Rocca. For example, a driver license provides a great analogy to this issue: it costs $17.50 through a quick online process to replace a lost or stolen driver license according to the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles. However, DOB feels it is necessary to go above and beyond that precedent by not only requiring payment of $50 but requiring the individual to submit a police report to an NYPD precinct. It should be sufficient to require payment and a signed affidavit to have a DOB-issued card replaced. If the DMV does not feel it is necessary to have a police report on file to “cover its bases” and protect itself, it seems completely excessive for the DOB to require such a report. Not to mention that it could require an individual to perjure himself/herself on such a report if the card, for example, was destroyed in an accident and was not actually “lost” or “stolen.”

THE PIPECASTER is published by the Plumbing Foundation City of New York, Inc.

535 Eighth Ave., Fl. 17, New York, NY 10018 | Phone (212) 481-9740 | Fax (212) 481-7185 | (E) info@plumbingfoundation.nyc
Lawrence J. Levine, Chairman; Louis J. Buttermark, Vice Chairman; Barr Rickman, Treasurer; April McIver, Executive Director; Terence O’Brien, Editor. Board of Directors: George Bassolino, Paul Belli, Marc Breslaw, Louis J. Buttermark, Harris Clark, Alex Greenberg, Nicholas Katragis, Angelo Lemodetis, Lawrence J. Levine, Scott Lyons, Barr Rickman, Richard Turchiano

The Plumbing Foundation Launches New Website!

The Plumbing Foundation is pleased to announce it has updated its website – please take a look here! www.plumbingfoundation.nyc

The Plumbing Foundation Remembers Peter Krokondelas

The Plumbing Foundation is sad to report that its longtime lobbyist and friend Peter Krokondelas passed away on Saturday, May 29th at 52 years old. He was an accomplished government relations professional, advocating for our industry for a decade and a half, and was an incredible person and family man. We are going to miss Pete and offer our sincere condolences to his family (especially to his wife, Stephanie, and his two young sons Jack and Jojo), all of his friends, and the entire Kasirer team, for this irreplaceable loss. Please see Pete’s obituary here: www.flinchandbruns.com/obituary/Peter-Krokondelas

THE PLUMBING FOUNDATION’S ENVIRONMENTAL STATEMENT

Since its establishment in 1986, the Plumbing Foundation has worked diligently to ensure the plumbing industry has as little a “carbon footprint” on New York City as possible. The plumbing industry has historically utilized environmentally friendly materials such as recycled cast-iron and copper piping/fittings. The Foundation will continue in its role of protecting New York City as well as being an advocate for the environment by strengthening its water/sanitary regulations and thereby reducing wasteful water consumption in the City.

The Plumbing Foundation Testifies at Hearing on Code Revision

On Monday, June 14, 2021, Executive Director April McIver testified at the NYC Council Committee on Housing & Buildings Hearing on Intro. No. 2261, also known as the Administrative Code revision portion of the Building Code Revision. The Plumbing Foundation commends the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) for involving the stakeholder community in the code revision process and is generally in support of the bill, but spoke on two major points as well as submitted written testimony on several other important issues. Executive Director McIver explained that the DOB proposes to revise the Administrative Code to allow city-employed licensed plumbers to conduct and obtain permits for all plumbing work, including new buildings and major alterations. Currently, license holders of city agencies can repair and replace existing plumbing systems, which has been the law for decades. DOB stated that the reason for this change is that the qualifications are the same for city and private licensed plumbers, but what DOB did not mention is that city employees are not and cannot be held to the same standard as private business owners, i.e., insurance and employer-related requirements. City-employed license holders are not employers, therefore there is no accountability for work conducted by persons under that licensee. Another important reason for not adopting this is that the city should want to have major alterations and installations done via bid by contract in which the outside contractor is held to a timeframe and payment schedule based on that contract, whereas there is much less of an incentive for internal employees being paid a salary regardless of meeting deadlines. The Plumbing Foundation foresees that this will add to the already existing delays in getting important plumbing related work done on many public works jobs (e.g. NYCHA, Parks, etc.). DOB also proposes to remove the Master Plumber and Master Fire Suppression Contractor License Board, established decades ago, which comprises DOB personnel and appointed members of the industry to oversee new license applications and disciplinary actions. DOB testified that other similar trades do not have a similar board; however, master electricians do currently have a license board. Other trades (other than licensed master plumbers, licensed fire suppression contractors, and licensed electricians) are not licensed/regulated to the extent which are licensed master plumbers, licensed fire suppression contractors, and licensed electricians. As is the case in many professions, such as the legal and medical professions, peer review of persons seeking to obtain a license and disciplinary matters of existing licensees is extremely important for transparency and oversight reasons. The Master Plumber and Master Fire Suppression Contractor License Board provides a much needed function and the duties should not be removed but strengthened. Other points the Plumbing Foundation emphasized in its written testimony include:
  • That the legislation should contain provisions which make it easier for an individual to become both a Licensed Plumber and Licensed Fire Suppression Contractor, since most persons have the requisite knowledge and experience for both licenses.
  • That the Council should expand the DOB’s seizure and forfeiture abilities to allow DOB to seize vehicles and tools used in connection with unlicensed or unregistered activity at work sites other than new construction of 1-3 family homes. Alteration work of existing buildings, e.g., from single-family homes to 50-story commercial buildings, are more of a concern in the construction industry than just the activity on 1-3 family homes, which cannot legally occur if installed by non-licensees.
  • That the proposal to place a monetary cap of $50,000 on Category 1 Limited Plumbing Alterations, despite the work already being extremely limited under such definition, is completely arbitrary and sets barriers for homeowners, cooperatives, and others looking to have a licensed plumber complete limited plumbing work in a building in any 12-month period.
  • That the proposal to require a company licensed by the DOB to have its NYC office be “dedicated” to the licensee’s business be removed; Licensees have complied with the NYC office requirement for years but the additional mandate of having to make sure such space is dedicated to the business makes absolutely no sense given today’s commercial space costs and modern office arrangements.
The Plumbing Foundation is closely monitoring the progress of this legislation and will provide important updates to the industry.

NYS Senate Passes Modular Construction Legislation

On Thursday, March 25, 2021, the New York State Senate passed S.4738, which ensures that modular construction projects in New York City comply with licensing requirements.

High-rise modular construction in NYC cannot currently be forced to comply with the NYC Administrative Code requirements that traditional stick-built construction projects are required to follow: a NYC Department of Buildings (DOB)-licensed master plumber, NYC DOB-licensed master fire suppression contractor, and NYC DOB-licensed master electrician must conduct and oversee the work covered by such licenses. Licensing of these skilled trades ensures that experienced, qualified individuals are conducting complicated and dangerous work (e.g. gas piping, sprinkler, and electrical installations) and ensures that such work complies with the very stringent NYC Building Code. Work conducted by an unlicensed, unqualified, and inexperienced individual not familiar with NYC Building Code, regardless of whether that work is done in a factory or at a jobsite, can result in catastrophic consequences.

We commend Senator Jessica Ramos for her attention to this especially important matter and for the NYS Senate’s support of safe construction in New York City. We look forward to working with Assemblyman Erik Dilan on his same-as bill in the NYS Assembly.

Pipecaster Issue 1: Vol. 44

Plumbing Foundation Hosts Webinars on Gas Laws for Plumbers, Engineers, and Building Owners

In February, the Plumbing Foundation held a three-part legal and regulatory webinar series each focused on how New York City gas laws impact a particular sector of the industry: licensed plumbers, professional engineers, and building owners and managers. In 2016, a series of local laws established new regulatory oversight and mandatory inspections for natural gas systems across NYC. Since most of those laws have come into effect over the past year, the Plumbing Foundation is often asked about the new requirements. These webinars hosted panels of experts who discussed these requirements in detail and covered specific stakeholder obligations and risk of non-compliance to local laws specific to natural gas systems, obligations under the new laws, regulatory enforcement by the NYS Department of Public Service (DPS) and the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB), detailed information on staggered mandatory inspection due dates as determined by Community Board number across all five boroughs, roles and responsibilities of public utilities, and the responsibilities of Licensed Master Plumbers and Professional Engineers and knowing when each is required. Our expert panelists comprised representatives from the NYC DOB, Con Edison, National Grid, Northeast Gas Association, Clarity Testing Services, City Calibration, and Rudin Management, as well as experienced licensed plumbers and professional engineers, including from The PAR Group, Jaros Baum & Bolles, and the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE) of NYC. Our webinars were recorded and placed on our website (plumbingfoundation.nyc) for a limited time, but if people would like free access to one or all three after the limited runs have expired, please email us at info@plumbingfoundation.nyc.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Minor Plan Changes Require a Post Approval Amendment

The NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) issued a notice that beginning March 15, 2021 any jobs with minor plan changes must be submitted as a Post Approval Amendment (PAA).
  • For BIS Jobs: an AI1 form for minor plan changes cannot be submitted in eFiling for jobs after approval unless it is submitted as a Post Approval Amendment (PAA). Submit a PW1 with an AI1 Additional Information form that specifies the submission is part of a PAA and identifies the plan changes. Upload the new plans in eFiling and select New PAA. Include in the comments section the reason for the PAA and circle the information that has changed on the plans. Include a description of the changes in the Comments section of the PW1. Once the PAA status is PAA Fee Due, pay the fee in eFiling using the Express Cashier Payments module. For professional certification jobs, upload a completed PW1 form that indicates Okay for Approval in eFiling and select Approval for PAA. For resubmission of a standard plan review job, submit in eFiling as Minor Plan Change/PAA.
  • For DOB NOW Jobs: an AI1 for minor plan changes cannot be submitted to the DOB help form for jobs after approval. Submit a Post Approval Amendment (PAA) in DOB NOW. Upload as a single PDF a full plan set and include an AI1: Additional Information form as the last page that specifies that the submission is part of a PAA and identifies the plan changes. Include a description of the changes in the Comments section of the Plans/Work tab (PW1).

For more information, please reference the NYC DOB service notice:

www1.nyc.gov/assets/buildings/pdf/minor_plan_changes_sn.pdf

NYC Buildings Bulletin 2021-001

What you need to know… Buildings Bulletin 2021-001 Issued: March 1, 2021

Highlights

The 2014 NYC Fuel Gas Code does not allow the use of any Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) pipe for gas venting appliances. However, Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride (CPVC) pipe that is listed is permitted for venting of Category IV appliances.

The Plumbing Foundation testifies in support of Intro No. 1576 at Committee on Environmental Protection Hearing

On Tuesday, February 16, 2021, Terence O’Brien, Senior Director of the Plumbing Foundation, testified virtually at the NYC Council Committee on Environmental Protection Hearing in support of Intro. No. 1576, which proposes to increase the penalties imposed on owners failing to comply with the mandatory installation of and reporting requirements for backflow prevention devices. “Backflow” occurs when drinking water is contaminated by hazardous substances. It happens when street pressure pushes water into buildings where dangerous materials and chemicals may exist, and no device prevents that now contaminated water from re-entering the drinking water supply. Sometimes water flow can be reversed due to a water main break or a mistaken or accidental cross connection between the building’s water distribution and drainage systems. Therefore, it is vital that buildings install and maintain backflow prevention devices to prevent the harmful results of contaminated water, which can contain bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella. Senior Director O’Brien urged the passage of Intro. No. 1576 to properly incentivize compliance with the law. The NYC Administrative Code currently allows first-time fines to be imposed anywhere from $50–$1,000 for violation of the requirement to install a backflow device. Such fines do not provide enough of an incentive for owners to comply with the law. In a former Council hearing, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) clarified that the Department fines building owners $500-$5,000.* In contrast, a backflow device itself can cost up to $20,000. This is why the industry believes fines should be increased, so that owners do not continue merely paying the lower fine but rather comply with the law and actually install the required devices. Mr. O’Brien testified that Intro. No. 1576 provides a real method to address the problem as outlined above for penalizing noncompliance. It would increase the monetary penalties to be imposed on a building owner or operator who fails to comply with installation and reporting requirements for backflow prevention devices. The installation of backflow prevention devices is a public health priority. It is apparent that the understanding of and compliance with backflow prevention is still an issue at large in the City. Steep fines must be imposed on owners who fail to comply with the law in order to property incentivize compliance. *Hearing on Intro. No. 821, Committee on Environmental Protection, The New York City Council (Oct. 30, 2017).

Site Safety Training 40-Hour Requirement in Full Effect

The NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) issued a reminder that beginning March 1, 2021 construction and demolition workers at job sites with a Construction Superintendent, Site Safety Coordinator, or Site Safety Manager must have a Site Safety Training (SST) Card issued by a DOB-approved course provider. In consideration of the additional time it may take between completion of the training and when the SST Card is printed and issued, a printout of the front of the SST Card, issued by a DOB-approved course provider, will be acceptable proof a worker is trained for a period of 60 days from issuance. Digital SST Cards connected to an interactive and secure application will also be acceptable. New entrants to the construction and demolition workforce can begin working at the above sites after obtaining a Temporary SST Card from a DOB-approved course provider. A Temporary SST Card can be obtained upon completion of an OSHA 10-Hour course and is valid for six months from the date of issuance while the worker obtains the remaining 30 hours of training.

For more information, please reference the NYC DOB service notice:

www1.nyc.gov/assets/buildings/pdf/ll_196_0321_sn.pdf

Local Law 152 of 2016: Extensions for CDs 1, 3, 10

As a reminder, the NYC Council adopted a law (Local Law 12 of 2021) extending the due date for compliance with Local Law 152/2016 building gas system inspections for buildings in Community Districts 1, 3, and 10 from December 31, 2020 to June 30, 2021.

For more information and the updated schedule of inspections, please visit the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) website:

www1.nyc.gov/assets/buildings/pdf/ll152_deadline_extension_sn.pdf

Gas Explosion in Bronx Likely Result of Illegal Plumbing Work

On Thursday, February 18, 2021, a gas explosion in the Bronx led to 10 injured people, 6 of whom were children, and forced a mother to throw her baby out of her second-story window to a neighbor. The incident occurred at 1522 Paulding Avenue. “This is another unfortunate reminder of how illegal gas connections can result in horrific consequences. Only licensed master plumbers are legally permitted to safely install natural gas connections. That is why we are aggressively educating building owners, managers, engineers and plumbers on how to inspect gas lines in compliance with current laws, and we are fully supportive of the city’s efforts to crack down on illegal connections” said April McIver, Executive Director. The Plumbing Foundation commends the first responders, the NYC Department of Buildings, and the utility company for responding to the explosion in a timely manner, as well as the Red Cross for relocating the families impacted by the explosion. The NYC DOB reported that gas lines, water pipes, and laundry equipment were illegally installed in a ground-floor garage of the building and that the work was performed without proper permits. The property owner has been issued violations for such illegal work.

THE PLUMBING FOUNDATION’S ENVIRONMENTAL STATEMENT

Since its establishment in 1986, the Plumbing Foundation has worked diligently to ensure the plumbing industry has as little a “carbon footprint” on New York City as possible. The plumbing industry has historically utilized environmentally friendly materials such as recycled cast-iron and copper piping/fittings. The Foundation will continue in its role of protecting New York City as well as being an advocate for the environment by strengthening its water/sanitary regulations and thereby reducing wasteful water consumption in the City.
THE PIPECASTER is published by the Plumbing Foundation City of New York, Inc. 535 Eighth Ave., Fl. 17, New York, NY 10018 | Phone (212) 481-9740 | Fax (212) 481-7185 | (E) info@plumbingfoundation.nyc
Lawrence J. Levine, Chairman; Louis J. Buttermark, Vice Chairman; Barr Rickman, Treasurer; April McIver, Executive Director; Terence O’Brien, Editor. Board of Directors: George Bassolino, Paul Belli, Marc Breslaw, Louis J. Buttermark, Harris Clark, Alex Greenberg, Nicholas Katragis, Angelo Lemodetis, Lawrence J. Levine, Scott Lyons, Barr Rickman, Richard Turchiano

The Plumbing Foundation testifies in support of Intro No. 1576 at Committee on Environmental Protection Hearing

On Tuesday, February 16, 2021, Terence O’Brien, Senior Director of the Plumbing Foundation, testified virtually at the NYC Council Committee on Environmental Protection Hearing in support of Intro. No. 1576, which proposes to increase the penalties imposed on owners failing to comply with the mandatory installation of and reporting requirements for backflow prevention devices.

“Backflow” occurs when drinking water is contaminated by hazardous substances. It happens when street pressure pushes water into buildings where dangerous materials and chemicals may exist, and no device prevents that now contaminated water from re-entering the drinking water supply. Sometimes water flow can be reversed due to a water main break or a mistaken or accidental cross connection between the building’s water distribution and drainage systems. Therefore, it is vital that buildings install and maintain backflow prevention devices to prevent the harmful results of contaminated water, which can contain bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella.

Senior Director O’Brien urged the passage of Intro. No. 1576 to properly incentivize compliance with the law. The NYC Administrative Code currently allows first-time fines to be imposed anywhere from $50–$1,000 for violation of the requirement to install a backflow device. Such fines do not provide enough of an incentive for owners to comply with the law. In a former Council hearing, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) clarified that the Department fines building owners $500-$5,000.* In contrast, a backflow device itself can cost up to $20,000. This is why the industry believes fines should be increased, so that owners do not continue merely paying the lower fine but rather comply with the law and actually install the required devices.

O’Brien testified that Intro. No. 1576 addresses the problem as outlined above. It would increase the monetary penalties to be imposed on a building owner or operator who fails to comply with installation and reporting requirements for backflow prevention devices.

The installation of backflow prevention devices is a public health priority. It is apparent that the understanding of and compliance with backflow prevention is still an issue at large in the City. Steep fines must be imposed on owners who fail to comply with the law in order to property incentivize compliance.

*Hearing on Intro. No. 821, Committee on Environmental Protection, The New York City Council (Oct. 30, 2017).