Dirty Water: Hospitals’ Tanks Contaminated

  July 10, 2018

By Cathryn Jakicic

Water tank reports at many New York City hospitals include mentions of rust, muck and pigeons, according to City and State New York. The inside of one tank was rusty and discolored, and a dead pigeon lay nearby. A different tank had bird droppings on it and was missing its roof.

These report were submitted by city hospitals, where many of the sickest and most vulnerable patients are treated. Even the more modern facilities have water tanks made entirely of wood, which experts say also pose a risk.

Animals and insects could easily enter and contaminate the water if the tanks are not carefully maintained. In addition, city records show many hospitals have not been filing timely water tank inspection reports, as the law requires.

Ultimately, just seven of 40 hospital buildings surveyed provided some proof of a water tank inspection – to the city or to City & State – for every one of the last five years, records that city law requires building owners to keep. Several declined to provide all the documentation requested after they disagreed about which records the law requires them to release, but said they nevertheless cleaned and inspected their tanks annually.

Several hospitals say they go above and beyond the annual inspection and cleaning requirements. The most zealous appear to be hospitals that have previously experienced high-profile waterborne disease outbreaks in their own building drinking water systems.

This Quick Read was submitted by Cathryn Jakicic, Healthcare Industries Editor, FacilitiesNet. For more about hospital campuses and other medical facilities, visit


Read next on FacilitiesNet