​Local government authorities (LGAs) have legislated responsibilities and are a key partner in preventing Legionnaires’ disease in NSW.

In 2018, NSW Health strengthened the Public Health Regulation 2012 (the Regulation) to require a performance based (or risk management) approach to managing cooling water systems.

Last updated: 10 August 2018
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What are the responsibilities of local government authorities?

LGAs have an obligation under Section 4 of the Public Health Act 2010 (the Act) to take appropriate measures to ensure compliance with regulation of cooling water systems.

LGAs can undertake various activities in order to meet this obligation. This can include:

  • regularly inspecting systems in their area to ensure compliance with the Regulation
  • investigating systems with reportable test results of Legionella count ≥1,000 cfu/mL or HCC ≥5,000,000 cfu/mL
  • investigating systems with an audit demonstrating non-compliance
  • following up systems with overdue certificates of Risk Management Plan (RMP) completion and audit completion
  • identifying unregistered systems
  • assisting Public Health Units during a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak investigation
  • using authorised officers’ powers to enforce compliance with the Regulation.

Under the Regulation, LGAs must also:

  • maintain a register of all cooling water systems in their local government area
  • receive notifications of installation or a change in particulars (including decommissioning) of systems in their area
  • issue a unique identification number for each cooling tower in their area
  • receive notifications of reportable test results of Legionella count ≥1,000 cfu/mL or HCC ≥5,000,000 cfu/mL
  • receive certificates of RMP completion and audit completion.

What is the register of cooling water systems?

LGAs must maintain an up to date register of cooling water systems in their area. This is an important way for ensuring that system details are readily available in the event of an outbreak.

The register includes names and contact details of the person(s) responsible for the system; the unique identification number for each cooling tower in the system; date of notification for each certificate of RMP completion and audit completion; date of notification for each reportable test result; details of any inspections carried out by the LGA.

How should local government authorities assign unique identification numbers?

LGAs must issue a unique identification number for each cooling tower in a system, for all existing systems, and when notified of a newly installed cooling water system.

The unique identification number should be issued by LGAs using a consistent format across NSW:

  • 3 letters for the LGA
  • 4 digits for the cooling water system number
  • 2 digits for the cooling tower number within the cooling water system.

For example, “ABC-0007-02” would describe the second cooling tower in the seventh cooling water system that was registered within the ABC local government area.

How should local government authorities respond to reportable test results?

LGAs should develop local processes to address reportable test results. This may involve contacting the occupier or duly qualified person (DQP), reviewing the RMP, following up on subsequent test results, investigating the premises where poor practice is suspected, and using the authorised officer’s powers if necessary.

Similar processes should be developed for responding to certificates of audit completion showing non-compliance.

How do local government authorities carry out routine inspections?

LGAs can choose to carry out on-site inspection programs of cooling water systems in their area.

This helps to protect the health of their local population and is an effective way for LGAs to meet their responsibilities under Section 4 of the Act.

The frequency of inspection is at the LGA’s discretion.

How do local government authorities assist Public Health Units during outbreak investigations?

LGAs and Public Health Units conduct an urgent environmental evaluation during an outbreak investigation. This includes:

  • using the register of cooling water systems to identify systems in the area, including those with a higher Legionella risk (as shown in the RMP) or a history of non-compliance
  • using the authorised officer’s powers to investigate systems and enforce compliance with the Regulation (see Authorised Officer factsheet for full list of their powers).

Can local government authorities charge fees?

LGAs are able to charge fees for receiving:

  • notification of installation of new cooling water systems
  • notification of reportable test results
  • certificates of RMP completion and audit completion

Additional fees and penalties may be associated with investigation and inspection of cooling water systems by LGAs in order to protect the health of their local population.

How should local government authorities set due dates for risk assessments under the new Regulation?

It is beneficial for all stakeholders if risk assessments for cooling water systems across NSW are completed in phases. This will spread out the ongoing workload for undertaking RMPs, conducting annual audits, and providing and processing documentation for LGAs.

Local government authorities will allocate cooling water systems in their area to a due date of 30 November 2018, 31 March 2019, or 30 June 2019. The first RMP must be completed by this date.

Cooling water systems that are currently managed using AS/NZS 3666 Part 3, and have renewed their RMP after 1 January 2018 may be allocated to a later due date.

LGAs can allocate due dates based on:

  • an understanding of Legionella risk, with higher risk systems allocated to the first due date
  • existing administrative processes, such as the date of first registration, or date of most recent certificate of disinfection
  • random allocation.

Risk assessments completed using the Victorian template do not comply with the Regulation in NSW.

What is the local government authority for my area?

You can find your LGA by entering the address of the cooling water system at: Find my council.

What guidance and training is available?

The NSW Guidelines for Legionella Control in Cooling Water Systems explain the new requirements in detail, including the role of LGAs.

This series of factsheets summarises the key information for each stakeholder. The full set of factsheets can be found on the NSW Health website.

NSW Health has developed the Legionella Control in Cooling Water Systems training program together with TAFE NSW. 

For more information

  • Learn more about the new requirements.
  • Contact your local council or call your local public health unit on 1300 066 055.
  • Non-English speaker? Call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50.
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Page Updated: Friday 10 August 2018
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW