Lifeguards Alex Julian, left, and Camryn Potangaroa keeping an eye on children enjoying the refurbished Lido pool. PHOTO/EMMA BROWN

Masterton’s Lido pool will be officially reopened by Mayor Lyn Patterson on Saturday after a major upgrade.

To mark the occasion, swimming in the outdoor pools at the recreation centre will be free for the day.

Masterton District Council began work in January on the project to give the pool a PVC liner to eliminate leakage from cracks in the concrete pool, as well as upgrading the system to capture water lost through the overflow channels along the side of the pools.

“We’re delighted the pool is back in action in time for summer – it’s been cooling off Masterton residents and visitors for generations,” MDC manager community facilities and sctivities Andrea Jackson said.

“The work done will not only boost our water conservation measures but will future-proof the pool for a few more generations yet.”

The origins of the pool date back 50 years to 1969 when then Lions club president Tony Wright capitalised on interest in the Moon landing and brought a NASA Gemini space capsule to tour New Zealand on a fundraising mission.

Fifty years on, as well as tackling leaks, work on the pool this year also included replacing all the piping for the Lido pool, which came with a few challenges.

Contractors encountered a lot of stones and boulders under the pool during excavation for pipework.

The quality of concrete in the area also proved somewhat variable, resulting in subsidence and cracking of some areas of the concrete concourse once trenching was under way.

Also, part of the project was the installation of two balance tanks.

These regulate the water level depending on how many people are in the pool – when one person gets into the pool, an amount of water goes into the tank to keep the water level constant; this process is reversed when a person leaves the pool.

There were previously no balance tanks for the pool, with the Lido pool and the diving pool acting as balance tanks for each other.

Previously, the pools could not be managed separately, but now they have separate systems that allow them to be filled and maintained independently.

Future activity will include work on the outdoor pool complex’s sand filter.

This filter is a large concrete structure below ground, with pumping plant installed above it.

Access is therefore difficult, made more complicated by the fact that the tank is beyond the reach of a pumping truck to remove the sand.

The work will be largely a manual operation and is not likely to be carried out until the next financial year.

Along with the patchy appearance with the concrete, visitors will also notice that the prickly weeds in the grass area have been treated.

The grass will be re-sown in autumn.

During the work, the opportunity has been taken to make improvements not part of the original project.

Old and crumbling concrete grates along the side of the pool have been replaced with fibreglass versions, to ensure the new pipe system will not be affected by loose concrete material.

A problematic tree with roots that were damaging the toddlers’ pool and concourse has been removed and replaced with a seat, and a sign added explaining the story of the Lido.

Another seat has been refurbished and installed under trees on the northwest corner of the site.