THE Moe-Newborough Latrobe Leisure pool will continue to be heated to more than 32 degrees Celsius each Sunday for the remainder of this financial year.
The decision, made at last week’s Latrobe City council meeting, comes after a three-month trial in which an additional 385 people took a splash on Sundays.
Earlier this year, Moe resident Lenore Cox submitted a petition with more than 270 signatures, calling for a Latrobe City pool to cater for hydrotherapy needs.
It was in response to the Warragul Leisure Centre’s closure for major renovations, where Ms Cox had regularly attended to complete exercises in the centre’s public hydrotherapy pool.
“I’m delighted about the outcome and certainly I felt that families enjoyed the warmer water as much as the people who need it for hydrotherapy,” Ms Cox said.
The average temperature of the Moe-Newborough pool is 30.5 C, which takes between 18 and 22 hours to increase to 32.5 C and about 20 hours to return to the normal temperature.
A council report stated no increase in gas costs had arisen to operate the pool, but there was no guarantee this would remain if the hydrotherapy program was extended.
It reported the increase in Sunday attendance during the trial period of June to September compared to 2014 figures had brought in about $2000 additional income.
Gippsland Flippers Masters Swimming Club president Don Coupe, whose members swim laps at the pool every Sunday, opposed the trial’s extension.
Although he acknowledged the importance of hydrotherapy, he said “a lot of people were caught during the trial period… it’s like a bath”.
“But the other point is Latrobe (City) needs to have a definite hydrotherapy pool for the disabled,” Mr Coupe said.
“There is one at the hospital, but… really, the council needs to think about planning ahead for the hydrotherapy pool.”
Mr Coupe said the club’s members, who also swim on Wednesday evenings at Churchill and the last Sunday of each month at Morwell, would have to consider moving their weekly Sunday swims from Newborough.
Ms Cox acknowledged warmer water was not suitable for lap swimmers, but pointed to an influx of families with young children who were now using the Newborough facility.
“The people who need warm water access have no other access at the moment,” Ms Cox said.
“But the Gippsland Flippers group do have six other days of the week they could go to Newborough, and Morwell is certainly close by.”
At the end of the financial year, a report will be presented to councillors, who will again consider running the program until the Warragul pool’s expected reopening in September 2016.