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RELEASE: State Rep. Youakim & State. Sen. Latz Bill Would Create Cooling Tower Registry to Prevent Legionnaire’s Spread

Thursday, February 9, 2017

ST. PAUL, MN - State Representative Cheryl Youakim (DFL – Hopkins) and State Senator Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park) have introduced a bill that would create a cooling tower registry for Minnesota cities. The legislation was crafted in the fall of 2016 after a severe Legionnaire’s Disease outbreak occurred in Hopkins this past summer. The outbreak caused 24 people to become ill and led to one death.

The outbreak was traced by the Minnesota Department of Health, with support from the Center for Disease Control, to a cooling tower located in Hopkins. Although the Minnesota Department of Health quickly determined the likely dispersal site, it took weeks to find the exact source. Investigators struggled to find the cooling towers and ended up relying on city staff’s memory, called in tips, and the satellite feature on Google maps.

“During the outbreak, the City of Hopkins was contacted by many concerned residents, businesses and visitors about whether it was safe to come to Hopkins,” said Hopkins City Manager Mike Mornson. “We spent over three weeks working with the Department of Health and Hennepin County to identify cooling towers in the City and nearby cooling towers in our neighboring communities.  State Representative Cheryl Youakim and Senator Latz’s proposal would be an excellent resource, and a very proactive step to assist in identifying cooling towers in an efficient and timely manner. We are happy to support her proposal.”

Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Health expressed their concerns with the severity of Legionnaire’s Disease.  MDHS released the following statement:

“Legionnaires’ disease is a serious respiratory infection causing about 5,000 cases annually in the United States. Legionella bacteria are found naturally in fresh water but can multiply in man-made systems such as spas, hot tubs, decorative fountains, and cooling towers. Minnesota has seen an increase in the number of cases annually in the last several years as have many states.”

“This legislation would simply require a building owner to register their cooling towers with the Minnesota Department of Health,” said Rep. Youakim.  “The bill in no way will put an end to Legionnaire's Disease; however, having a cooling tower registry in place is one tool the Department of Health can use to mitigate the extent of an outbreak. It is in the interest of public health to find a source quickly, reduce the number of Minnesotans effected and perhaps save a life.”

“What happened in our community this past summer was highly troubling and easily avoidable,” said Senator Latz. “With this bill, we seek to prevent potential Legionnaires outbreaks by quickly locating their source."

The bill will be introduced formally on Thursday afternoon. 

Rep. Youakim encourages constituents to contact her with any questions, comments, or ideas on any legislative topic. Rep. Youakim can be reached by phone at 651-296-9889 or by email at