The outdoor pool in Masterton. PHOTO/FILE
Nearly 30 per cent of private swimming pools in Wairarapa are failing inspections required under new safety regulations – but the owners face dramatically different council inspection costs depending on where they live.
There are nearly 1600 private swimming pools in the region and charges for inspections range from nothing, to $185.
Under new pool safety legislation that came into effect on January 1 last year, pools have to be inspected every three years.
The law is aimed at preventing access by unaccompanied five-year-olds, but it is clear many owners are not meeting new requirements.
Only 60 of the 120 pools checked this year by Carterton District Council [CDC] passed their first inspections.
So far this year in South Wairarapa, 57 pools have been inspected with 31 failing.
Pools seem to be in better condition in Masterton, where 317 of the 399 pools inspected this year have passed.
Requirements for pools capable of holding 400mm or more water include a 1.2m fence that is at least 1.2m clear of any climbable object outside the pool.
Gates must open outwards and be self-closing.
Masterton District Council [MDC] said the main areas of non-compliance were pool barriers or fences.
If a pool fails, faults must be corrected – or the pool can be removed.
MDC said if homeowners decided to remove their pool, the best way to do it was to fill it in with soil.
For above-ground pools, the advice from CDC was to simply drill a hole in the side and drain it.
When it comes to keeping cool about charges for pool inspections, the 393 pool-owners in Carterton District are best off.
There, the first council inspection is free, as is the second — as long as the pool passes.
If it doesn’t pass the second inspection, there is an $85 charge for further inspections.
MDC has an estimated 900 private pools in its area, and charges $35 for an initial pool inspection.
If there are significant issues a reinspection may be required, costing $145.
In South Wairarapa, where there are 286 pools, 96 pools are inspected each year.
A pool inspection costs $185 and a follow-up, $148.
CDC said it used photographs from an aerial flyover of the region in January last year to identify pools.
At the same time as checking private pools, MDC is doing work on its public outdoor lido pool at the north end of town.
The pool is more than 50 years old and has at least one crack.
Drainage channels around the edge of the pool are also losing water and need upgrading.
A PVC liner is being installed.
It effectively provides a new pool for a fraction of the cost, council said.
There was no need for a detailed investigation to identify existing or developing cracks, and PVC was flexible, so there was less risk of damage in an earthquake.
A liner also reduced maintenance costs. Concrete is porous and must be coated with a sealant to ensure water tightness.
Pool liners had a guaranteed minimum lifespan of 10 years, the council said.
“Fitting a liner and upgrading the channels, pipes and balance tank will economise water use and preserve our outdoor pool for the enjoyment of Masterton residents and visitors for at least another decade to come,” a council spokeswoman said.