New NSW Cooling Tower Management Regulations for January 2018

December 19, 2017

Significant new requirements for the management of cooling towers in NSW commence on 1 January 2018.

An amendment to the NSW Public Health Regulation 2012 was published on 1 December 2017. Under the new requirements, the occupier of premises that contain a water-cooling system must ensure that:

  • All water-cooling systems undergo monthly testing for Legionella count and heterotrophic colony count (HCC)
  • Legionella and HCC test results that exceed notifiable limits must be reported within 24 hours to the relevant local government authority.

The occupier is defined in the NSW Public Health Act 2010 as;

  • The owner of the premises that contains the water-cooling system;
  • The person entitled to occupy the premises (such as a leaseholder); or
  • The owner’s corporation under a strata scheme.

It is important that the occupier be clearly identified ahead of the new regulations, and understand the new responsibilities.


The first monthly test must be completed by 1 February 2018. The test sampling must be carried out by a ‘duly qualified person’. This is a person who might reasonably be expected to be competent to install, operate or maintain a water-cooling system and can include people who work for water treatment companies, mechanical services companies, and other industry organisations that manage water-cooling systems on a day to day basis.

Samples must be tested by a laboratory accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA). Test results can be provided to the duly qualified person on behalf of the occupier, to the occupier, or the local government authority depending on contractual arrangements.

High HCC and or Legionella Test Results

The Regulation requires the water-cooling system to be operated to ensure Legionella counts and HCC remain below threshold levels.

  • Legionella – for results greater than 10 CFU/mL a remedial action must be taken as soon as practicable.
  • HCC – for results greater than 100,000 CFU/mL a remedial action must be taken as soon as practicable.

A Legionella count greater than 1000 CFU/mL and a HCC greater than 5,000,000 CFU/mL must be notified to the local government authority for that area within 24 hours.

For further information go to the NSW Department of Health website for the fact sheet

Further Requirements

Additional amendments to the NSW Public Health Regulation 2012 are expected to commence in early 2018 and will include for:

  • Introduction of risk management plans (RMP) for each cooling tower system
  • Independent annual auditing
  • Requirement to notify local government of RMP and audit
  • Unique identification numbers for cooling towers.

These proposed amendments are outlined on the NSW Health website.

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