Cooling water systems (i.e. cooling towers) provide efficient cooling for large buildings such as offices, shopping centres and some industrial businesses. Badly maintained systems provide ideal conditions in which Legionella bacteria can multiply to high numbers.
These systems may then spread the bacteria via the dispersal of tiny water droplets, which when inhaled can cause Legionnaire’s disease. This infection can be fatal to individuals with weakened immune systems.
Under the Public Health Act 2010 and Public Health Regulation 2012, building owners have a responsibility to operate and maintain the system to reduce Legionella bacteria. Council undertake regular inspections to ensure these systems are operated and maintained to appropriate standard.
Information for Building Owners
NSW Government has recently strengthened the legislative requirements for cooling water systems. Building occupiers are required to implement the following six (6) safeguards to prevent Legionella contamination:
- Risk assessment of potential Legionella contamination and documented Risk Management Plan at a minimum of every five years;
- Independent auditing of compliance with the Risk Management Plan every year;
- Providing certification of Risk Management Plan 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 to Council; and
- Displaying unique identification numbers on all cooling towers.
Forms, templates and further information are available from the NSW Health’s website.
Contact Council’s Environmental Health Officer on T: 02 6036 0100 for more information.