Cooling Towers

Cooling water systems must be managed safely in order to prevent the growth and transmission of Legionella bacteria. Infection may cause Legionnaires’ disease, a serious and potentially life-threatening condition.

From 10 August 2018, building occupiers are required to ensure that there are six key safeguards in place for their cooling water systems:

  1. Risk assessment of Legionella contamination, documented in a Risk Management Plan (RMP) – every five years (or more frequently if required)
  2. Independent auditing of compliance with the RMP and Regulation – every year
  3. Providing certificates of RMP completion and audit completion to the local government authority
  4. Sampling and testing for Legionella and heterotrophic colony count – every month
  5. Notifying reportable laboratory test results (Legionella count ≥1000 cfu/mL or heterotrophic colony count ≥5,000,000 cfu/mL) to the local government authority
  6. Displaying unique identification numbers on all cooling towers.

The owner/occupier of a premises where a regulated cooling system is installed must:

  1. Register their system with Willoughby Council using the Regulated System Registration Form.
  2. Any changes to the owner, the occupier, emergency contact and changes to the regulated system must be notified to Council via Registration form
  3. Install, operate and maintain the systems and records in accordance with the Public Health Act 2010Public Health Regulation 2012Public Health Amendment (Legionella Control) Regulation 2018 and Australian Standard 3666 series.

There are statutory penalties for those who fail to comply with legislation. The responsible person is guilty of an offence if their tower is not registered with Council or has not been maintained as required.

Visit  NSW Health for more information and relevant legislative documents.

Legionnaires Disease is a severe form of pneumonia. One of the strains of bacteria responsible, Legionella pneumophilia, is generally associated with contaminated water from places like cooling towers, spas, water systems or fountains.

The urban environment provides the perfect place for Legionnaires Disease to breed; water sitting between 35°C and 43°C, with corrosive by-products such as iron and zinc, and nutrients provided by algae). In Australia most outbreaks of the disease has been linking to water-cooling systems (referred to as regulated systems). These Cooling Towers are defined as:

  • A device for lowering the temperature of water or other liquid by evaporative cooling, or
  • An evaporative condenser which incorporates a device containing a refrigerant or heat exchanger.