Cooling Towers and Water Systems

The Public Health Act 2010 requires Councils to take an active role in ensuring compliance with requirements of the Act at premises where systems have the potential to transmit Legionnaires disease are installed.

“Regulated systems” as defined under the Act include water cooling towers commonly used for air-conditioning or industrial cooling processes and warm water systems such as thermostatic mixing valves and recirculating warm water systems used in hospitals and nursing homes.

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.

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.

Council conducts routine inspections for some regulated systems. Fees are charged for these inspections.

If you are planning to install or operate a regulated system, the law requires you to notify Council within one month of installing or occupying a premises with a regulated system.