New pool is short of power
SWIMMERS who hoped to dive into Rockhampton's new $5 million competition pool yesterday went home disappointed when its opening was cancelled at the last minute.
But the temporary glitch is insignificant compared to a major doubt that hangs over the pool this coming winter.
The council says that there's not enough power supplied to the Southside swimming complex to operate the 10-lane pool's heating system. Talks are being held with Ergon Energy but it's not clear that the electricity company has the ability to upgrade the transformer in time to heat the pool as planned from April.
So the pool, opened in a blaze of glory last week by Premier Anna Bligh, could well be closed as soon as temperatures dip, leaving millions of dollars worth of equipment idle and the region's elite and recreational swimmers frustrated.
The pool is the centrepiece of a $17 million rolling redevelopment of the complex that first opened in 1959.
Cr Cherie Rutherford, chairwoman of the council's sport and recreation committee, said the region's swimm
ing clubs were being told to make sure they had alternative training arrangements in place for the winter so they were not left in the lurch. "The clubs have been kept informed of this issue. The council is working through the problem with Ergon now to resolve the matter as quickly as possible."
She said the heating system, which would keep the water at a constant 28 degrees throughout the cooler months, used a lot of power and there would have to be upgrades.
But Ergon's corporate communications manager, Bob Pleash, said the energy supplier was only advised of revised supply and increased load requirements on Thursday.
He said Ergon would do all it could to meet the council's expectations and timeframes.
Meanwhile the world-class 50-metre pool remains unused this weekend as contractors work to ensure the water meets safety standards.
"Obviously we're really embarrassed and disappointed that it went pear-shaped on us yesterday.
"We are very sorry but there are some technical issues with getting the filters working again after the level dropped for some work. We tested at 5am on Friday and it wasn't right and safety is the most important consideration," she said.
The council is still negotiating with swimming clubs on a pricing regime.
Cr Rutherford said the issue would be discussed again on Wednesday and she was confident the matter would be resolved.
"Using the pool for nothing is not an option because of the running costs, but we have to ensure it's affordable for children who want to participate in swimming, no matter what their parents earn," she said.