Pool’s out for summer

AN earthquake in May is believed to be the cause of significant damage to the Balaklava Swimming Pool, which looks likely to rule out the facility for use this summer.

Water gradually leaked from a crack in the base of the large pool in recent months, with the pool now all but empty.

An insurance assessment is currently under way but advice from leading swimming pool engineer, Neil Davey of Crackerjack Consulting, suggested it was unlikely the pool would be repaired and reopened before the end of the coming swimming season.

The Balaklava Swimming Pool facility is one of three owned and partly maintained by Wakefield Regional Council (WRC).

While a relining of the Balaklava pool was budgeted in the 2019/20 financial year, WRC resolved to instead channel those funds into a condition assessment of all three of council’s swimming facilities – including Owen and Hamley Bridge.

The timing of that report was fortunate, with the damage from the earthquake coming after the condition assessment was completed.

Mr Davey advised council staff that the relining of the pool, budgeted at $100,000, would not have prevented the damage that occurred.

The recent condition assessment highlighted the full amount of upgrade work required across all three swimming pool sites in the area.

Council is awaiting an engineer’s report from its insurer to understand the level of insurance coverage at Balaklava.

An engineer is undertaking further testing before providing a report to the insurance company, which might take up to a month before it is submitted.

The insurance company will then make a determination on the claim.

In the meantime, the tender process for upgrades at all three pools will be finalised by October 9, which will include recommendations for contractors and a full costing of all upgrades. This will be presented in a report to council in late October, which will present several options for council to consider.

Subject to council approval, a successful tender will be awarded for the pool upgrades. Once decided, the works are likely to be carried out in a staged process outside of the swimming season to minimise disruption at respective sites.

Balaklava Swimming Pool Committee met on Monday night and was briefed of the situation ahead of the coming summer.

President, Les Pearson, said it was apparent to the committee that opening the pool for the coming season seemed extremely unlikely.

“Certainly, from the advice provided by engineers and council’s infrastructure team, it appears we won’t be open this summer,” he said.

“That’s disappointing, we’ve elected an enthusiastic committee of 13 locals, Lee-anne McCracken has come onboard as our new treasurer, but a rare natural event has ultimately proven very damaging to our site.

“The recent solar project resulted in a reduction in our power bills of about $12,000, meaning we reported an operating surplus last season.

“We’ll be exploring all avenues to cater for our membership base while the pool remains closed and working to reopen as soon as possible.”

Swimming pools at Owen and Hamley Bridge will be operating during the summer.

“The Balaklava Swimming Pool Committee is encouraging locals to utilise these facilities during this difficult period and Owen, being only about 15 minutes drive away, certainly appeals as a good alternative option,” Les said.

“I have contacted Erin Warnes, the Owen Swimming Pool president, and she has indicated Owen will be open and happy to accommodate extra swimmers from Balaklava.”