There are more than 250 cooling towers operating in businesses in the North Sydney area. Council keeps a register of these towers. Although building owners are responsible for cleaning and maintaining the towers, Environmental Health Officers carry out audits of the towers each year to ensure that they are being maintained appropriately.
Cooling towers are inspected because of the risk of the potentially fatal Legionnaires Disease which can be contracted from poorly maintained cooling towers. Council can provide education and advice on cleaning procedures. To register, or for more information, phone (02) 9936 8100.
Frequently Asked Questions
Legionnaire's disease is a form of pneumonia. It can be fatal.
The disease is caused by breathing in Legionella bacteria. This bacteria is present in the environment, but can grow rapidly in cooling towers of air conditioning units, and in warm water systems.
Symptoms of the disease include headache, fever, cough, chest pain, diarrhoea, breathlessness and disorientation.
Legionella growth can be controlled by proper water treatment (process of disinfection) procedures and regular cleaning. Building occupiers have a responsibility to keep all water cooling systems, air handling systems, evaporative cooling systems, humidifying systems and hot and warm-water systems properly maintained.
A competent person who has expertise in the field, such as a tertiary qualified chemist, chemical engineer or microbiologist, must certify each system annually.
How do I know if I have a cooling tower or warm water system on my premises?
Ask the landlord or company that services the air system. Do not attempt to access the roof to identify your cooling system unless you are equipped to do so, as this may be dangerous.
Identifying a system is not easy unless you are a specialist in this field. Only competent contractors should be engaged to install, operate and maintain regulated systems. The Building Services Corporation licenses contractors who undertake this work.
Council regulates water cooling systems under the Public Health Act 2010 and the Public Health Regulation 2012. These systems must also comply with AS/NZS 3666.2:2011 and AS/NZS 3666.3:2011. Council does not regulate air conditioners and hot water cylinders under this legislation.
These regulations require that local Council's keep a register of all water-cooling, evaporative cooling and warm-water systems installed on the premises in their area. It is your responsibility to ensure that the Council is provided with the necessary information.
Each year Council Officers/Consultants may inspect registered cooling towers to check cleanliness.
Technical details about microbial control and the Code of Practice for the control of Legionnaires Disease are available from the NSW Health Department or Tel: 9477 9400.