Not just toddlers: four-to-ten year olds causing pool contamination

LATEST STRATEGY: Orange Aquatic Centre manager Beth Shea with one of the new signs that are being displayed in an effort to reduce closures of the pools. Photo: TANYA MARSCHKE
LATEST STRATEGY: Orange Aquatic Centre manager Beth Shea with one of the new signs that are being displayed in an effort to reduce closures of the pools. Photo: TANYA MARSCHKE

Children aged from four to 10 have been involved in contamination issues at Orange Aquatic Centre where pools have repeatedly closed due to faeces in the water.

The toddler pool has closed at least 16 times in the past six months, sometimes more than once a week in busy times, leading to calls for parents to ensure children aged under three are wearing waterproof swimming nappies, which are available at the centre.

However, due to toilet-trained children also having accidents, the latest strategy that’s been initiated is requests for parents to take children to the toilet before getting in the water and take regular toilet breaks thereafter.

It is part of a new series of posters displayed at the centre which are aimed at spelling out the practical steps parents need to take.

Orange City Council’s Corporate and Community Relations manager Nick Redmond said staff at the centre shared the frustration of customers when a pool had to be closed because of a contamination problem and a multi-level approach has been taken to finding solutions. 

“While insisting that babies and toddlers wear waterproof swimming nappies, and providing these nappies to families who might have come without is part of the solution, it’s also a distraction from what’s turning out to be a much broader issue,” Mr Redmond said.

“Staff are now working from a growing awareness that older children, from four-year-olds through to 10-year-olds, are also involved in contamination incidents at the pool. 

“While the parents and carers of these older age-groups believe their children are toilet trained we’re now focusing on getting some key messages across.”

Mr Redmond said the centre delivered water quality in line with standards set by state health authorities.

He said short-term closures to treat contamination, while inconvenient, was the price of meeting those standards.

Mr Redmond said there were also signs of a community perception that pools at the centre were closed more than those in other locations, but that may be due to transparency and notices.

“We want to let the public know when the pool is closed as soon as possible through the centre’s Facebook page to avoid any added inconvenience,” Mr Redmond said. 

“Giving a priority to keeping our community aware might also give the impression that the Orange Aquatic Centre is affected more than other pools.”