Page 954 - Week 03 - Thursday, 19 March 2015

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give an indication of the complexities of the problem, as not only is the volume of leakage dependent on the seasons but it also seems to depend on fluctuations of the water table rising and falling.

I was advised that the most up-to-date estimate of the average water loss is close to 46.7 kilolitres a day. As the responsible minister, I have serious concerns about not only the financial impact that this leak has on government budgets but also the environmental impacts. There are obvious environmental concerns due to the loss of such a large quantity of water.

An initial concern raised by the Environment Protection Authority, who identified that chlorinated backwash water may be running into the stormwater, has been remedied through changes to the backwash system that now divert expelled chlorinated water into the sewer. This has not clarified or resolved where water from the leakage is going but has alleviated some of the immediate environmental concerns.

But the sheer volume of lost water is concerning in its own right. Water is precious in the ACT, and I do not believe we can in good conscience allow this leakage to continue. I have therefore directed Sport and Recreation Services to undertake a series of steps to address issues affecting the pool in the short and medium terms.

As usual, the outdoor dive pool and the outdoor toddler pools will close on 31 March of this year, the end of the 2014-15 summer season. Following this, more work will be undertaken to establish the cause of and potential solutions to the leakage problem. As members may be aware, the outdoor pool area is annually closed on 31 March until 1 November in a summer-winter use split.

It makes sense to allow the few remaining weeks of this summer season to continue and to undertake the investigations within this normal shutdown period. The indoor 50-metre pool, health club and ancillary facilities will remain open throughout this period, with the possible exception of a couple of days of closure to complete the investigative works.

Once the investigations are complete, a decision will then be taken as to whether the outdoor pools can reopen next summer. If the investigations identify the cause of the leaks and remediation work can be undertaken at a reasonable cost to government, the outdoor pools will be reopened next summer. However, the best advice available to me at this stage is that approximately 70 per cent of the current water loss is from the outdoor pools. If remediation cannot be undertaken, the outdoor pools will not be reopened next summer in order to reduce the significant loss of water that is currently taking place.

The primary user groups affected by such a closure would be water polo, water rugby and the ACT diving academy, as well as casual summer visitors. I have already personally spoken to the water polo, underwater rugby and diving clubs. I am keenly aware that the Civic pool has the only dive facilities in the region. I would like to assure the community and my Assembly colleagues that the ACT government is committed to working closely with all pool members, users and clubs who could be displaced to find suitable alternative facilities where possible. I will be holding

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