Outdoor and heated pools for all

By Robert Muir

Federation Council agreed yesterday on firm plans for the design and construction of an estimated $9.5 million brand new Corowa Swimming Pool incorporating both an outdoor pool and indoor heated pool. 

The facility is expected to be built by mid 2020. Council unanimously endorsed a concept plan to commit to a 50m outdoor pool consisting of eight lanes and to a heated indoor pool comprising 25m, as well as a suitable area for learn to swim and other activities.

It also agreed in principle to use existing loan funds to a maximum of $1.5 million, which is massively less than the outstanding $5 million necessary before additional state government grant money last December.

Deputy Mayor Shaun Whitechurch, who is on the 12-member Corowa Swimming Pool Advisory Committee, described council’s resolution – which will lead to a region-leading aquatic facility - as excellent for the community and region. 

“Certainly it’s a project which has come a long way, come a long time,” after moving the motion. He outlined the background which led to his motion 12 months ago at council’s May 15, 2018 meeting – for a 50m outdoor pool and that council continue to investigate a heated indoor pool – when another consultant’s estimates were much higher for an indoor pool and before council unexpectedly received substantial additional grant funding.

In encouraging fellow councillors to commit council to up to an extra $1.5 million in loan money, instead of a massive alleged $5 million, Cr Whitechurch said: “We can have a whole new facility, including an indoor heated pool, satisfying almost 100 per cent of the population.”

Cr Fred Longmire seconded yesterday’s motion. “It’s good to see the end in sight,” he said. 

“It was built by volunteers in 1956. A lot of people are attached to it and it can satisfy everybody. People can come to this location from all around this region and perhaps from Melbourne with upgrades to our (Ball) Park.”

Council could seek additional funds for the pool’s construction from the private sector. “Maybe there’s someone out there, perhaps an entity not far away. I think council would welcome any discussions with local entities.”

C Paul Miegel praised the situation council now finds itself but expressed some concern about operating costs which would lead to some community concerns.

“I’d like to see some estimates. But who would have thought we’d have both an indoor and outdoor pool? 

“There are lots of positives. I just have that one concern about operating costs.” Cr Whitechurch said from discussions with the consultant, he did not envisage any significant concerns.  

An increase in availability of learn to swim programs is a critical outcome for the wider community with up to 40 children having to be removed from pools by staff/life savers, due to getting into difficulty in the water, during recent school swimming carnivals held at Howlong and other pools.

At the monthly pool advisory committee meeting on May 7, pool architect Stephen Johansson from Facility Design Group presented two concept plans:

Option A involved retaining and re-using as much of the existing pool administration building as possible; without hydronic heating and roof over the learn to swim pool $8.16M; hydronic heating to pool deck for learn to swim pool and roof over:  $9.09M.

Option B was a completely new build, demolishing everything on the site, and allowing for a completely new build. $9.46M

Both Option A and Option B require further investigation regarding options for heating the water in the learn to swim pool.

Both options presented were for an approximate 16m x 10m learn to swim/program pool and an outdoor seasonal 50m pool and splash pad. The pool types were consistent with Federation Council’s previously adopted position.

In Option A, the learn to swim pool could be constructed to be indoor or outdoor, with capacity to be built in at a later date. 

In Option B, the learn to swim pool would be constructed as an indoor pool. 

“Given the size of the investment from council for this asset ($8 million plus), anything that can be done to extend the operating season of the pool is considered a good outcome,” council’s director engineering services Steve Carmichael told council.

“Having an indoor learn to swim pool would enable the pool to operate for 12 months of the year, providing opportunities for learn to swim operators to conduct classes, and also make the pool more viable as a business for either council, or a private operator to run under management, on behalf of council.”

Preliminary construction estimates of the two options provided by the architect include contingency allowances in the order of 8% of the budget - around $600,000 to $800,000. 

“Allowing these contingencies is practical and reasonable at this early stage of design,” Mr Carmichael said.

“The cost options include the roof over the learn to swim pool, and also include hydronic under slab heating. This is a required element for the building to function in the way that the architect designs aquatic buildings.

“There is a saving on plant and equipment by designing a skillion roof with louvres on each side, one lower and one higher. The heat from the pool concourse and warm water causes convection currents that exhaust the humidified air passively through the elevated louvres. This design element contributes to a cost effective model for operating the pool.”

Evidence from Cootamundra-Gundagai Council shows that the addition of their indoor 25m pool that is heated by evacuated tube solar with continuous flow gas water heaters as a backup, has resulted in a less than 20% increase in the total operational cost for the facility, according to Mr Carmichael.

“Many recently constructed pools, like Cootamundra, have utilised evacuated tube solar that directly heats the water, with a gas backup,” he said.

“The current thinking is that Photovoltaic cells generating electricity to power new generation, efficient water heat pumps may be the best way to go.

“It is considered the contingency funds and other allowances within the stated budgets, would be sufficient to meet this cost. 

Mr Carmichael said the Corowa Swimming Pool Advisory Committee was unanimous in its support for Option B. “There was some good feedback provided from all committee members which will be taken on board to further resolve the design of the facility,” he said.

“One key piece of feedback from many committee members was that the learn to swim pool needs to be 25m in length for lap swimmers. Increasing the entire indoor pool with option B by another 9m (currently 16m) would cost an additional $500,000 to $800,000.

“The architect has discussed an option of creating two longer lap swimming lanes (two was the number indicated required by the committee), while retaining a smaller learn to swim area.”

Cr Norm Wales described the new pool complex as having a ‘wow’ factor. It’s a great set up,” he added.

Mayor Pat Bourke said it was fantastic presiding over the meeting which decided on the course of action. “It’s delivering something the people want,” he told fellow councillors.

“Congratulations to councillors and staff over this long period of time. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the people of Corowa and surrounds.”