Cooling Towers

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It is a requirement that all regulated systems which are either water-cooling or warm-water systems must be registered with the local Council. You can do this online. Other regulated systems do not have to be registered with Council.

Legionnaires' disease is an infection of the lung caused by the Legionella bacteria. This bacteria causes a type of pneumonia which can be fatal. It usually takes two to 10 days for the symptoms to develop after inhaling the bacteria.

Legionella bacteria is found naturally in low levels in moist environments. In the absence of effective treatment Legionella can breed to high numbers in water cooling systems (cooling towers) and warm water systems.  Investigations have also revealed that Legionella has the potential to breed in other areas including water heaters, shower heads, spa pools, potting mix, decorative fountains, water features and spray irrigation systems.

The most common way Legionnaires’ disease is contracted is by breathing air contaminated with Legionella. Air is contaminated when aerosols containing Legionella are released. The aerosol needs to be very small so that it can penetrate deeply into the lung.

Note: Legionnaires’ disease is a notifiable disease under the Public Health Act.

What are the responsibilities of building-occupiers?

The proper installation, maintenance and cleaning of systems is a legal requirement under the Public Health Act.

All water-cooling systems must only be operated only if they are equipped with a process of disinfection certified by a competent person and only if the process is in continuous operation.

All regulated systems are required to be equipped with an operating and maintenance manual. The manuals must include all details of inspections and servicing performed. Manuals and records must be kept on site and be available for inspection by an authorised officer on demand.

Installation of any new system must be reported to local government authorities, so that a local register of systems can be kept up to date.

Only competent contractors should be engaged to install, operate and maintain regulated systems. The Department of Fair Trading licenses contractors who undertake this work.

It is the responsibility of building owners with water cooling and warm water systems to ensure that they provide Council with accurate and up-to-date information.

Failure to comply with these requirements may result in heavy fines or even imprisonment.

What are Council’s responsibilities?

Local councils are required to maintain an accurate register of water-cooling and warm-water systems installed on premises in their area.

The Legionnaires’ Disease Emergency Management Plan prepared by the NSW Health Department will be put into action if an outbreak occurs.