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ACT Building Owners: Changes to Cooling Tower Laws Affect You!

posted 26th March 2018
What is a Cooling Tower?
A cooling tower is a device for lowering the temperature of water by evaporative cooling. Devices that incorporate a water-refrigerant or water-water heat exchanges are also included in the definition.[1]

The position prior to 20 July 2017
The licensing and registration of cooling towers in the ACT is managed by ACT Health because it relates to an activity that may result in the transmission of disease or that may adversely impact upon the health of individuals.[2]

In accordance with the Public Health Act[3] the Minister may declare an activity to be a public health risk activity. The declaration must state whether or not the activity is licensable, non-licensable or registrable.[4]

What has changed?
On 20 July 2017 the Public Health (Cooling Towers) Risk Activity Declaration[5] came into effect. The instrument declared cooling towers to be a registrable, location specific public health risk activity. This means that a registration must be held for each premises or location where there is a cooling tower.

Failure to comply now has serious consequences
Unless there is a reasonable excuse, failure to comply with the code of practice applying to cooling towers, and register a cooling tower, is an offence which can result in fines or imprisonment.

What should you do?
Seek legal advice. We have highly experienced lawyers who can advise you on what your obligations are as a building owner in respect of the registration and maintenance of cooling towers servicing your buildings. We can help you understand the changes to the law and what you need to do to be compliant.

For more information contact the Property, Commercial & Finance Team

Christine Murray Partner Property, Commercial & Finance
(02) 6279 4402

Rachael Wood Associate Property, Commercial & Finance
(02) 6279 4439

[1] Air-handling and water systems of buildings – Microbial control Design, installation and commissioning (AS/NZS 3666 1:2011)
[2] Public Health Act 1997 (ACT) s18
[3] Public Health Act 1997 (ACT) s18(1)
[4] Public Health Act 1997 (ACT) s18(3)
[5] Public Health (Cooling Towers) Risk Activity Declaration 2017(No 1)


This material has been prepared for the general information of clients of Meyer Vandenberg Lawyers. Its is not intended to take the place of professional advice and readers should not take action on specific issues in reliance upon any matter of information contained in it.