Register your building cooling tower

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Register a cooling tower

All businesses and buildings with a cooling tower in North Sydney must register with Council to enable our Environmental Health Officers to carry out audits of the towers each year to ensure that they are being maintained and cleaned appropriately.

The occupier of a premises on which a new system is installed must notify the Council within one month of installation or of becoming the occupier.

Similarly, if changes have been made to the operation or management of an existing system (including decommissioning), Council must be notified.

Regulated Systems and cooling towers registration form

Managing a building with a cooling water system

Building occupiers have a number of responsibilities regarding the  management of risks from cooling water systems on their property. If you are the occupier, or are managing a premises on behalf of the occupier, then you must ensure:

  • monthly testing for Legionella and heterotrophic colony count is carried out 
  • high test results for Legionella (≥1000 CFU/mL) and heterotrophic colony count (≥5,000,000 CFU/mL) are reported to Council within 24 hours of receiving the results and the standard notification of reportable test results is form from the NSW Health website is completed and emailed to Council
  • a duly qualified person is engaged to inspect, service and maintain the system
  • a competent person carries out a risk assessment of the system at the required frequency, and a Risk Management Plan (RMP) is obtained documenting the risks and the recommended control strategies
  • compliance with the RMP is audited each year by an independent auditor and an audit report is prepared on time
  • a unique ID number is displayed on each cooling tower on the system
  • operating and maintenance manuals are available for the system
  • records of cleaning, servicing, and maintenance are completed each month in the approved form, and are kept somewhere where they can be easily accessed
  • RMP and audit certificates are submitted to Council on time
  • the installation of a new system, or changes to an existing system (including decommissioning), are promptly notified to Council
  • safe and easy access to the system is maintained.

Council's role

Councils Environmental Health Officers carry out site inspections of cooling water systems and review related records, RMPs and audit certificates. Compliance with the Public Health Act 2010, Public Health Regulation 2022 and AS 3666 Air-handling and water systems of buildings – Microbial control is checked. This includes:

  • physical inspection of the cooling tower; AND
  • review of all related records (RMP, audit reports, cleaning, service and maintenance records).

If non-compliances with the requirements of the Public Health Act 2010 are observed, building occupiers/owners can be ordered to comply with the requirements. 

Failure to comply with the requirements under the act can result in legal notices, orders, fines, and/or legal proceedings against a building occupier or owner.

Legionnaires disease

Cooling towers are inspected because of the risk of the potentially fatal Legionnaires Disease which can be contracted from poorly maintained cooling towers. Symptoms of the disease include headache, fever, cough, chest pain, diarrhoea, breathlessness and disorientation.

Legionnaires 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.

Legionella growth can be controlled by proper water treatment (process of disinfection) procedures and regular cleaning. Building occupiers are responsible to ensure all water and evaporative cooling, air handling, (de)humidifying, and hot and warm-water systems are 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.

Identifying a system is not easy unless you are a specialist in this field. If you are not sure if your building contains a cooling tower, 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.

Only competent contractors should be engaged to install, operate and maintain regulated systems. The Building Services Corporation licenses contractors who undertake this work.

Information and factsheets on Legionella control for building owners, occupiers and contractors are available at the NSW Health website.

Inspection fees

Section 608 of the Local Government Act 1993 provides that Council's in NSW may charge approved fees for various services provided, including premises inspections. 

The current fees and charges are detailed in the Schedule of Fees and Charges.

Failure to pay fees may result in the debt being referred to a debt collection agency and details may be forwarded to credit authorities in the event of non-payment.

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