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#CapeWaterGate: The Cape Town swimming pools you can splash around in this summer

#CapeWaterGate: The Cape Town swimming pools you can splash around in this summer
Illustrative photo: People gather to cool off in the public swimming pools in Sea Point on 16 January 2016. Photo: Kim Ludbrook/(EPA)

By now, the idea of your own private pool should be a distant memory – or a great big eyesore in the middle of your garden. There are, however, plenty of shared spaces as an option. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.

Ah, summer. A time for sipping pink drinks by the poolside and pretending the world does not exist. Only problem is, the “new normal” means you shouldn’t have a pool, never mind sit next to it. If, for some unholy reason, you are part of the select few who disobeyed all the warnings and were still filling up a large body of water, be warned: we’re all coming to bathe in it when the water runs out.

If, however, you have sacrificed your precious luxury, you can still get your fix at a number of public swimming pools in Cape Town this summer. Or can you?

Last year, public swimming pool hours in Cape Town were cut down drastically in order to comply with water restrictions. This year, it’s gone a step further.

The City of Cape Town’s Recreation and Parks Department announced in September that it will drastically reduce the number of municipal pools open during the summer months. Just 12 of the 35 public pools will be open – and seasonal opening dates have already been delayed.

The Cape Town pools that will be open this summer

Atlantis, Strand, Blue Downs indoor, Khayelitsha, Bellville, Vulindlela, Retreat, Mnandi, Eastridge, Kensington, Sea Point and Hanover Park swimming pools will all be open for business.

Operating hours of the swimming pools that will remain open

Pools will open from 1 December 2017 until 31 January 2018, between 10:00 and 16:00 daily.

The only exception is Sea Point swimming pool, which uses seawater and will be open from 1 November between 07:00 and 19:00 daily during summer.

How were the pools chosen?

Careful consideration went into selecting these facilities as they are easily accessible or located on a transport route. All of them have a maximum capacity of over 500 patrons and are equally represented across the four areas of the city,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, JP Smith.

The goal is to ensure that the swimming pools are open as often and as long as possible; however, we must remind users that given the expected high usage of these swimming pools over the period in question, operating hours will need to be adjusted from time to time in order to ensure that water quality remains at an optimum level. These changes will be communicated to the public via our website and social media channels.”

How are these pools staying open?

A combination of reduced hours and using recycled water to ensure water levels are adequate means you can still go for a little splash. Water that is usually wasted during the backwash process is being stored in tanks. From there, the sediment settles and once that happens it is recycled back into the pool.

Why can’t we just use salt water in all of the pools?

The City is actually looking at this as an option, but it’s not just a case of tinkering in salt water and then you’re all sorted. Salt water access pipes have to be laid first and only five pools are viable for this access. Smith said that the city is “absolutely determined” to do this in future, but because budgets are being adapted to deal with the emergency plan, it’s not exactly a priority.

Strand, Muizenberg, Mnandi and Monwabisi pools could be turned into salt water options.

It is important to note that for a swimming pool to be converted into a seawater swimming pool, the whole filtration system will need to be replaced to handle the salt water – hence our indication that while it is an option, it is a costly exercise because of the infrastructure required,” Smith explains.

Can’t we just bring in an iceberg to fill them up?

Well, it’s a possibility, but probably even more costly than just turning the lot into salt water pools. If swimming as nature intended is your thing, you can always freeze your bollocks off with a dip in the Atlantic, bugger off to one of the coastlines where the water is warmer and drought isn’t a problem, or splash around in one of the city’s tidal pools of which there are 19 to choose from. DM

Photo: People gather to cool off in the public swimming pools in Sea Point on 16 January 2016. Photo: Kim Ludbrook/(EPA)


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