All regulated systems which are either water-cooling or warm-water systems are required to be registered with Northern Beaches Council. You can do this online. Other regulated systems don’t need council registration.
The Risks - Legionnaires disease
Legionnaires disease is a serious lung infection. Legionella bacteria causes a potentially fatal type of pneumonia that develops quickly after inhalation.
Low Legionella bacteria levels are found naturally in moist environments. However, without effective treatment, Legionella can breed to high numbers in water cooling systems (cooling towers) and warm water systems.
How Legionnaires disease is spread
The most common way of contracting Legionnaires disease is by breathing tiny droplets of water in the air, contaminated with bacteria. A common source of infection is poorly maintained and managed air-conditioning cooling towers for large buildings.
Compliance and registration
The Regulation sets out six key requirements or “safeguards” as part of the risk management approach:
- Assessing risk of Legionella contamination and preparing a Risk Management Plan (RMP) – every 5 years (or more frequently if required)
- Independent auditing of compliance with the RMP and Regulation – every year
- Providing certificates of RMP completion and audit completion to the local government authority
- Sampling and testing for Legionella and heterotrophic colony count – every month
- Notifying reportable laboratory test results (Legionella count ≥1,000 cfu/mL or heterotrophic colony count ≥5,000,000 cfu/mL) to the local government authority
- Displaying unique identification numbers on all cooling towers.
Operation and maintenance
All regulated systems must have an operating and maintenance manual. The manuals need to include details of all inspections and servicing performed. Manuals and records must be kept on site and available for inspection on demand. All maintenance must be carried out by a licensed operator.
Building occupier’s responsibilities
It’s the responsibility of building owners with water cooling and warm water systems to make sure they provide Council with accurate and up-to-date information.
Failure to meet these requirements can result in heavy fines or even imprisonment.
All local councils have a legal obligation to maintain an accurate register of water-cooling and warm-water systems installed on buildings in their area.
The Legionnaires Disease Emergency Management Plan prepared by the NSW Health Department will be put into action if an outbreak occurs.
Register your water cooling or warm water system with Northern Beaches Council. You can report an issue with a cooling tower to Council.