Wollongong's ocean pools are among the many council services that would be cut back if recommendations put forward by the citizens panel go ahead, but it remains unclear which of the nine coastal pools could be marked for demolition.
Stretching from Wollongong to Coalcliff, the tidal rock pools cost Wollongong City Council $802,000 to clean and maintain each year, according to documents provided to the citizens panel.
This includes monthly cleaning in the summer swimming season, as well as maintenance of the pool infrastructure.
In its report, presented to the council earlier this week, the citizens panel made a recommendation that tidal pools close to other aquatic facilities should be ‘‘reduced’’ and ‘‘run to fail’’.
Council general manager David Farmer yesterday explained that ‘‘run to fail’’ meant the pools would not be repaired in the event of a leak or other structural damage, and would then be demolished to ensure there were no safety issues.
The panel said this would save an average of $45,000 a year per pool, and a total of $135,000 if two to three pools were closed.
However, there was no detail on which pools were considered to be ‘‘close’’ to other facilities, with citizens panel member Nicola Stanistreet saying the council would need to investigate which two or three pools could be let go.
Council staff were also unable to provide this information.
‘‘The assessment of rock pools and their need for maintenance or if they are allowed to run until they fail would be managed on a case by case basis,’’ a spokesman said.
‘‘Council would need to investigate how close pools should be to other aquatic resources prior to commenting further on this recommendation.’’
Based on a map provided on the council’s Have Your Say website, tidal pools which are ‘‘close’’ to other facilities include the Gentlemen’s pool in Wollongong – which is next to the Continental pool – and Austinmer tidal pool – which is close to the swimming pool in Thirroul.
The Bulli and Woonona tidal pools are also close together, as are the ocean pools at Coledale and Wombarra.
Hearing of the panel’s recommendation, one regular swimmer at the Wollongong Gentlemen’s pool – who did not want to provide his name – said it would be ‘‘cruel’’ to get rid of the pool because it was used by a number of older people.
He also said numerous families swam and used the beach and rock platforms surrounding the pool on weekends.
Other information, which could be used to inform any closure of ocean pools, is a 2009 audit of council pools conducted by Geoff Ninnes Fong and Partners, made public in January this year.
It warned the existing pool structures at Bellambi, Coledale, Gentlemen’s (between Continental and the North Beach Bathers’ Pavilion) and Towradgi had deteriorated beyond repair and should be demolished.
It said these pools had ‘‘great potential legal risk for the council in terms of hazards due to cracking, tripping and general dangerous degradation’’ and said new pools should be constructed in the old positions if the public wanted them.