Pooled pools?

SWIMMING pools in the Wakefield Regional Council (WRC) district are in dire straits with all three, Balaklava, Owen and Hamley Bridge, requiring urgent and large capital investment to ensure they are compliant and sustainable.

In the Plains Producer on September 23, it was reported Balaklava Swimming Pool would not be opening for the 2020/21 summer due to a crack in the base of the large pool.

Now there are serious doubts over the state of the other two pools after WRC received condition assessment reports from Crackerjack Consulting Engineers.

An information session on the state of the pools was held for elected members at the chambers last Wednesday, followed by a meeting on Thursday with committee members from all three pools.

An extensive report was presented for each pool, and while all three were deemed to lose thousands of litres of water each year, Hamley Bridge pool was deemed to be in the worst condition of the three, namely due to the filtration system.

Tenders submitted for repairs to Owen and Hamley Bridge pools varied, ranging from a combined total of $1.2m to $1.65m.

Balaklava is yet to undergo the tender process as it awaits the outcome from the insurers.

Of the three pools, the consulting firm advised WRC Owen could be managed in the short term provided repairs of up to $50,000 were completed prior to opening.

These would not make the pool fully compliant but would ‘reduce the risks associated with water quality.’

However this, and all pool works, needs to be approved by WRC before works can start, possibly at a special meeting as it didn’t appear on the agenda for tonight’s council meeting.

The consulting report provided some short-term options – repair Owen pool to keep it open for this summer, and keep Balaklava and Hamley Bridge pools closed.

Hamley Bridge pool committee members, who desperately want their pool open this summer, were disappointed and upset with this suggestion, although not surprised to learn of the significant water circulation problems.

Repairs/replacement costing in the vicinity of $400,000-plus, must be addressed prior to their pool opening this summer.

Councillors raised concerns including the need to offer families and young people a place to go when it’s hot, to gather and socialise, along with learn to swim and water awareness for children.

Committees were equally concerned at the detrimental effect pool closures would have on their towns and communities.

“You can’t put a dollar value on pools in our communities,” Balaklava pool committee member, Kinglsey Cottle said.

Volunteers have been maintaining the pools for years, with not much in the way of council budgetary assistance, and while the pools are now at crisis point, volunteers were pleased WRC is now assisting them to become compliant and ‘move forward.’

It is anticipated a survey will be put out to the community to ascertain their views on the situation along with ideas for future development, so when it does, make sure you have your say on the future of your town’s swimming pool.