Pools stay closed for summer

Newlands municipal pool remains closed.

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Newlands and Observatory municipal pools remain closed, despite the sweltering heat.

Newlands pool was closed in May due to a suspected chlorine gas leak, after it briefly opened in March. The pool, which had been closed for nearly five years for repairs, opened much to the delight of the community and neighbouring area (“Newlands pool reopens… in time for winter,” Thursday March 31).

The R22 million upgrades to the pool and facility included removing all asbestos pipes; repairing the filtration pipes; tiling and paving; waterproofed and released control joints in the main, diving and baby pools; upgrading the electrical reticulation system; refurbishing the grandstand; servicing the filtration room; connecting new pipes; and performing maintenance on the ablution facilities and commentator’s box.

In a statement last month, the City said two significant concerns were identified regarding the water circulation and chlorination system. This led to unforeseen delays in opening on Thursday December 1, as scheduled.

“To date, testing of the chlorination system and water circulation is currently in process to ensure compliant PH levels. The chlorination system and entire plant room are planned for future repairs and upgrades, notwithstanding the heritage significance of the plant room structure,” said mayoral committee member for communities services and health Patricia van der Ross.

“The second priority relates to constrained water circulation between the scum channel and the sump. The connection is being re-established and tested, in order to avoid any blockages in filtration.

“Site inspections on the work done on the filtration system are still under way in order to ascertain the way forward.”

Ward 59 councillor Mikhail Manuel apologised for the pool not being open for summer thus far.

“This is not the level of service delivery which we strive to achieve,” he said.

Mr Manuel said that according to the latest update he received, the chlorine was not correctly distributing throughout the pool.

He said officials and Ms Van der Ross were due to meet on Wednesday to solve the problem so the pool could be opened for the remaining months of summer. “I hope for the pool to open soon,” he said.

At the time of the pool’s opening, Ms Van der Ross said the drought and then the pandemic had delayed the renovations

“Yes, it took longer than expected, but we had to make sure that all safety checks were in place. We had to take into account the heritage status of the building, we had to make sure everything was in working order before we could reopen this facility.”

The re-opening of the 80-year-old Observatory pool could take more time, as the City had just concluded the two appeals received regarding the swimming pool tender, said Ms Van der Ross.

Observatory swimming pool was closed in 2019 due to infrastructural defects.

Ms Van der Ross said major repairs were needed, which included the entire pool basin structure (cracked tiling, damaged expansion joints); circulation pipes and valves causing water loss; the repair and replacement of components in the plant room; and the pool deck.

The repairs and maintenance programme for all swimming pools would start in the current financial year and be completed in a phased approach over the coming years, she said.

Meanwhile, Trafalgar swimming pool is one of 16 municipal pools around the city that reopened for the festive season. In a statement, the City said it had secured enough chemicals to open municipal pools daily from Monday to Sunday, from 10am till 5pm, subject to load shedding.

The 16 community pools now open are Bellville, Bellville South, Bonteheuwel, Brown’s Farm, Delft, Goodwood, Hanover Park, Kensington, Khayelitsha, Lentegeur, Muizenberg, Parow North, Ruyterwacht, Trafalgar, Wesfleur (Atlantis) and Wynberg.

Also open are the Retreat, Blue Downs and Strand indoor swimming pools, while Sea Point and Long Street pools are open from 7am to 7pm.

“It has been a very trying time for our department as numerous challenges, including load-shedding and the supply of chemicals, have thrown many plans into disarray. Unforeseen challenges, such as the ones experienced at swimming pools that were meant to be open by now, have compounded the situation. The City apologises to residents for any inconvenience caused,” said Ms Van der Ross.