WIRAC manager Don Warrener and SDRC manager of Facilities and Recreational Development Greg Thouard at the pool.
WIRAC manager Don Warrener and SDRC manager of Facilities and Recreational Development Greg Thouard at the pool.

Council defends WIRAC report

A NO-holds barred report into Warwick Indoor Recreational Centre's indoor pool unearthed an alarming range of design failures.

However Southern Downs Regional Council officers have assured the Daily News the health of the water “isn’t and won’t be compromised”.

In an exclusive interview and tour with WIRAC manager Don Warrener and SDRC manager of facilities and recreation Greg Thouard, the Daily News was told the report, which was done earlier this year, harboured no surprises.

The two men said there ha never been any secret made of the 25-metre pool’s south-west corner, which rose about 50mm due to swelling of expansive clays, or the issue of access to the sand filters.

Water squirting from behind wall tiles in the children’s pool, failed automatic valves, structural damage in the plant room and poor water flow in the hydrotherapy pool were also raised as issues.

However Mr Thouard said the council had asked for a “warts and all” report to be written and was already aware of most issues raised.

Something of a modern phenomenon at the time of its construction 12 years ago, the WIRAC facility was built for around $3.5 million to replace the old outdoor pool at the Palmerin St site.

Mr Warrener admitted its construction wasn’t without controversy, with people reluctant to lose their Olympic-sized pool for a 25m.

“It didn’t take us long to realise there were problems,” Mr Warrener said.

“The boiler and heat pumps couldn’t handle things in winter and the contractor was called back a few times to fix things before the job was signed off.”

Mr Warrener and Mr Thouard insist there is no immediate problem with the pool, it’s just design woes.

Phrases like “hopelessly inadequate” and “sub-standard” litter the report and five recommendations are given.

While there is no solution to the uneven pool, which could “stagnate, creating a potential health hazard for pool users,” the report said, Mr Warrener said the systems he and his staff had in place ensured maximum safety.

“The pool is cleaned every morning and night,” he said.

“We constantly monitor the pool and test the water every four hours.”

Sand filters are described by Mr Warrener as the key to a clean pool.

They are under the pool room and can be accessed only by 400mm manholes – too small for a man to fit down.

The sands are used to clean pool water and need replacement but doing so is a tricky process.

Mr Thouard said while the long term goal was to relocate the filters to outdoor pods, funding wasn’t available for this yet.

However $85,000 has been set aside in the 2011-12 council budget to clean the sand filters.

The pool will need to be closed and emptied for a couple of weeks while this work is done and during this period the 422 metres of jointing on the pool tiles will be fixed up, as will the “squirting water”.

“The work on the filters should give us another 10 years use out of them,” Mr Thouard said.

“Then we can plan for the future.”

“The automatic valves used to backwash have also failed and this now has to be done manually, something the two men say is just another thing the facility has to put up with,” Mr Thouard said.

“Those are just the things we have, it may take more time, but we have to put up with it.”

YMCA has just finished an efficiency study of the facility and its results will soon be presented to council.

However, both Mr Thouard and Mr Warrener are adamant WIRAC is up to scratch.


WIRAC facts

  • Pool water is tested every four hours
  • $85,000 in the 2011-12 budget this year for WIRAC capital works
  • 750 members
  • 200,000 through the door a year

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