Concerns are building around revelations that the depths and dimensions of the proposed new Mackay Park pool will fall well short of the expectations of users.
As can be seen in the approved Concept D plan that is now under Development Application the depths of the three bodies of water have come under scrutiny as a result of an invitation only meeting called by Council's Project Manager, Stephen Phipps, that brought together future users of the pools to determine additional needs such as storage. First cab off the rank is the Learn to Swim pool that has several key issues. 1. The pool has a depth of 0.8 which is below industry standards. The depth of a learn to swim pool is important to both the child and the supervisor. While the focus might first seem to be on the child in fact the minimum depth is more of an OHS&R issue around the delivery of the class that offers enough water for the instructor to comfortably deliver tuition without needing to continually bend or to work on their knees. 2. The connectivity of the Zero depth beach entry to the Learn To Swim pool offers risk where a small child might poo on the splash pad (as is the case when access is available to all-ability children or the very young) and therefore contaminate the entire body of water. In terms of risk to an unsupervised child entering the deeper water unnoticed the risk is much higher and should not be burdened on any instructor using the Learn to Swim pool at the time. It is understood that Council are insistent that both bodies remain connected. It is also understood that Council is insistent the apparent non-compliant 0.8m depth shall also remain and according to the Project Manager is NOT for negotiation. On a social media post today various industry practitioners offered comments around the determination of Council to insist on 0.8m with comments such as "The very pool that will actually make money for the ESC aquatic centre is not getting the opportunity to be as profitable as it could be simply by not making it 40cm deeper and it also runs the risk of being an environment for workers compensation or public liability claims." If that is the case then this would immediately result in accredited Learn to Swim trainers not utilising the pool for lessons as they fail OHS and R requirements and the Guidelines for Safe Pool Operations (GSPO) that provide industry management standards and practices provide the managers of public pools and aquatic facilities. Operators of aquatic facilities are charged with a responsibility for public and occupational health and safety and they must work within a diverse web of standards, state legislation and industry best practice. It is understood that Eurobodalla Council have engaged Royal Lifesaving NSW to conduct an audit of the pool design. That audit will use the Guidelines for Safe Pool Operations (GSPO) as one reference for their assessment. It is also understood that Council intends to further compromise the Learn to Swim pool by reducing it from the original 15 m x 7.5m down to 15m x 7m. This reduction is in addition to the promised 25m x 10 lanes down to 25m x 8 lanes that councillors discovered in the Concept D plan presented for approval. Of interest also is the Warm Water pool . Warm water classes are predominately conducted in a vertical body position. Industry standards as described by AustSwim Aqua Guidelines is that shallow water classes should be conducted in water depth no greater than participants’ shoulder height and preferably at armpit height. While this sees the 1.35m shown on Concept D as agreeable (the original depth was 1.5m by Otiums Option 1) there is much of the pool area lost as it transitions from 0.85m (originally 0.9m) unless there is a drop off not shown on the plan). In regards to the depth of the pool it has been revealed that the aqua-aerobics groups will be using the 25m pool as the Warm Water pool is too shallow for their classes. So imagine the following: The 25m pool has a school carnival or training and is at maximum usage. The warm pool has a class and the Learn to Swim pool is in session. Little Johnny, Ravi or Lamida is paddling in the splash pool and then... does a whoopsie. Immediately the splash pool is contaminated resulting in the Learn to Swim pool being evacuated. Ideally the three bodies of water are on separate filtration systems. This might then allow the Learn to swim pool to be isolated, taking it out of action for at least two hours or more, in order for it to run a full filtration cycle. But what if it isn't? And what happens to the mums with toddlers in the class. Even if there is room in the 25m pool the temperatures don't match, neither do the temperatures in the Warm Pool. With a 25m pool being used for Aqua Aerobics, swim squad, older Learn to Swim sessions (including adults), lap swimmers and recreational swimmers the pool will need to be carefully timetabled. What if the general public want to attend the Warm Pool and NOT be in a class? Who will have right of access? And what if a parent wants to attend the Learn to Swim pool to teach their own child? Will they need to book a time between classes? If the Learn to Swim pool is non-compliant to industry standards and teachers willing to forgo their obligations under OHS &R are not to be found then the financial model of this aspect of the predicted income stream will be sorely compromised. While Council toys with the difficulties they face in rationalising the services they will have on offer to meet the $51m in available grant funding they might best consider the exodus of the pool if users are dissatisfied. Presently there are 1200 learn to swim students attend the Ulladulla pool coming from as far away as Moruya. The pool meets the Australian standards and attracts industry professionals drawn to a compliant facility. One solution put forward by a Council staff member was that if no one was able to be found in the industry to offer Learn to Swim classes then Council might establish a stand alone company and deliver the service themselves. While this is a recent comment the idea was first floated in the Otium Business case Irrespective of whether Council might chose to deliver the service, as an employer they would still need to comply with OHS& R requirements as directed by industry guidelines. The RLNSW Audit should make interesting reading. While it will be commissioned by Council with a reluctance on their part to release it under Commercial In Confidence as they had done with the grant application to NSW Sport, a GIPA application will be made to ensure the new community facility will be compliant.