Dry summer at many Nelson Mandela Bay pools
Drought conditions will see limited opening season, at fewer public facilities
While 10 of drought-stricken Nelson Mandela Bay’s municipal swimming pools are expected be operational for the 2018 holiday season, it is residents of Motherwell in Port Elizabeth who will be in a for a treat when a new, indoor heated swimming pool is officially launched at the Raymond Mhlaba Sports Centre early in December.
This emerged from visits to a number of municipal swimming baths in Port Elizabeth this week, where Weekend Post found facilities such as the James Kleynhans pool in Westering, the Gelvandale pool – which was empty of water on Friday – and the St George’s Park swimming baths closed to the public.
Despite the country being well into the summer season, just one municipal swimming pool, the Newton Park facility, was this week open for public use.
The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, which on Friday released the list of pools to be operational over the festive season, said public use of the 10 pools would be limited to two months – between December 1 and January 31 2019 – due to persisting drought conditions.
The municipal swimming pools opening to the public on December 1 were named as the James Kleynhans pool in Ward 9, the Varsvlei pool in Ward 35, Kings Beach middle pool in Ward 2, the Wells Estate pool in Ward 60, the KwaNobuhle pool in Ward 46, the Gelvandale pool in Ward 10, the Motherwell pools in Ward 58, the Despatch pool in Ward 52, the Newton Park pool in Ward 7 and the Zwide pool in Ward 27.
At the Raymond Mhlaba Sports Centre, preparations are under way to unveil the new, 25m-long indoor swimming pool which will complement the open air pool already there.
“Due to the fact that the drought has not yet ended, the pools are only being opened for a limited period,” municipal spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said.
Questioned about the current state of the municipal pools, Mniki said that as a result of the drought conditions, some of the facilities had been overexposed to the sun, resulting in some pool surfaces being damaged.
“To rehabilitate the pool structures, capital budget is required to repair the damage,” he said.
“The drought has not yet ended and the municipality is still implementing water restrictions.
“The municipality has however exempted the pools listed for the summer season from the restrictions . . . to ensure that the minimum services [swimming and leisure] can be provided to the community.”
Mniki said the idea behind the selection of the pools was to ensure that at least one pool in areas where clusters of pools exist, is open during the season.
Asked whether the current circumstances around the facilities had affected temporary employment opportunities traditionally available at the municipality during the summer season, he said the authority had still managed to provide some additional employment in the metro, despite the closure of some public swimming pools.
“The seasonal staff complement appointed for a period of two months comprises 13 ticket office attendants, 14 cleaners and 32 lifeguards,” he said.
Offering an incentive directed at getting water users to reduce their consumption, Mniki said: “We want to continue encouraging residents to save water. If we can save enough water, the directorate [parks and recreation] might open all the swimming pools again to the public.”..