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Strand pool may be converted for seawater

A R2 million plan to convert Strand indoor swimming pool to a seawater facility is in the pipeline.

A high-level desktop study was conducted to determine which of the council-owned coastal pools may draw its water intake from the ocean. The study was completed in March.

The Strand facility is one of four City of Cape Town pools being considered; Mnandi, Monwabisi and Muizenberg swimming pools may also be converted. Currently, the Sea Point pool is the only saltwater council-owned facility in the metropole.

An environmental impact assessment (EIA) must be done before the conversion can take place, stressed JP Smith, Mayoral Committee member for Safety and Security, and Social Services. A date for the planned conversion has not yet been determined.

The study was commissioned by the City, after it appointed Bosch Stemele (Pty) Ltd as service provider on 8 November last year. It comprised civil, electrical and mechanical components, Smith explained. “The team of professionals also compiled a high-level cost estimate for the conversion to seawater as well as a cost-benefit analysis to determine the possible savings in terms of operational costs over a set period of time,” he added.

According to the study, the Strand pool can be converted by installing a beach well on the shore — at the interface between fresh water and seawater, Smith explained.

“Or [the conversion can be done] by installing a submersible pump and cage beneath Strand Pavilion Hotel and then reticulating the water into holding tanks, before it undergoes filtration, chlorine treatment and is pumped into the pool,” he said.

“The cost of the conversion and associated work for the facility for it to operate on seawater is approximately R2 million.”

Leal de Kock, coach of AquaSharks Swimming Club whose members frequently train at the facility, said her swimmers will train in any pool, “as long as they can train”.

She said competitive galas cannot be held at saltwater pools as these would not be recognised by Fina. “Research has shown that swimmers are faster in saltwater,” she explained.

The planned conversion forms part of the City’s ongoing drive to find alternative ways to continue service delivery within the limits of the water restrictions.

Smith explained: “Due to the large volumes of water required to maintain swimming pools and the value of swimming as a recreational activity enjoyed by many locals and tourists in Cape Town, it is important for the recreation and parks department to find sustainable solutions to operate our public swimming pools.”

According to the City’s records, a total of 28 504 users visited the Strand facility during the summer season (December 2017 to April this year), December last year being the busiest month, with 11 924 users frequenting the pool.

In October last year, DistrictMail reported on the City’s decision to close the facility temporarily at the height of the drought (“Furore over pool closure”, 26 October). At the time frequent users of the facility – members of swimming clubs, water aerobics, fitness and lifesaving clubs as well as triathletes and Xterra athletes – were forced to find alternative training facilities at a higher cost.

Last week, the City announced it will be keeping the facility open during the winter period from 10:00 to 16:00 from Friday to Sunday.

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