Pietermaritzburg pools on life support

2019-12-20 14:22
A frustrated bather looks at the murky green Eastwood pool. PHOTO: Moeketsi Mamane

A frustrated bather looks at the murky green Eastwood pool. PHOTO: Moeketsi Mamane

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There is a “90% certainty” that all public swimming pools will be closed during the busy festive week next week because of a lack of chemicals to clean pools, sources have said.

And, in what was yet another blow for bathers, the Eastwood pool became the second pool in a matter of days to turn a murky green colour and close, after Alexandra swimming pool. Sources told The Witness there were not nearly enough pool cleaning chemicals to keep pools hygienic heading into next week, which is expected to be extremely busy for local pools as holidaymakers enter the city and temperatures rise.

Meanwhile, it has also come to light that staff at some swimming pools have had to fork money out of their own pockets to fund brush cutters, cleaning materials, paint for fixtures and even for staff uniforms because of a lack of funding.

To ensure cleanliness, pool floors are vacuumed daily, which takes about half a day. Filter tanks are cleaned and dirty water is backwashed into the stormwater system. Water is then tested for chlorine and acidity and alkalinity levels, and chemicals are added accordingly.

Chlorine powder is added to pools at closing time and left overnight.

The municipality said this week the Alexandra pool was closed because mud had washed into it after recent heavy rains. Sources said, however, the water had turned green because of a lack of cleaning chemicals.

Eastwood pool is closed and litter is floating in the water. A source said: “It is a big schlep to keep the pools clean with so little chemicals. Staff will not be able to keep all pools going next week. Pools are only supposed to be closed on Christmas Day. Every other day it is chaos during the festive season. Next week it is going to be hot and families will go to the pool. Now the city cannot guarantee the pools will be opened.”

Staff sources said the lack of financial and other input from Msunduzi means they are left to pay for maintenance of pools. “Staff puts in the extra effort because they want people to have a good time and we want them to be safe.

“But the municipality doesn’t meet them halfway. The municipality should be grateful it has such dedicated staff that would do that, but they get no appreciation.”

Chairperson of the Concerned Swimming Fraternity (CSF), Jay Jugwanth, criticised those overseeing pools for not regularly checking that pools were maintained and provided with chemicals.

“The CSF has been pleading for chlorine gas [instead of powder] to be utilised ... however, our pleas fall on deaf ears. It is the festive period, families are on holiday, the weather is baking hot and the pools are closed — this is unacceptable. This echoes the incompetence of the parks and recreation department which lacks forward planning.

“We publicly ask the leadership of the city to investigate the lack of cleaning chemicals and chlorine gas and ... take disciplinary action against bungling employees.”

Jugwanth also claimed alcohol and drugs were being smuggled into pools to be used by bathers.

Msunduzi did not respond to a detailed query yesterday.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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