Cleaning the Ocean Baths

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Newcastle is fortunate enough to have two ocean baths facilities, Newcastle and Merewether, that sit on its pristine coastline and are open year round for the community to enjoy.

Council clean, manage and maintain these facilities and always try to find the balance between availability and cleanliness. At present, both Newcastle and Merewether are cleaned weekly and the cleaning schedule is available above. Newcastle Ocean Baths, due to its age, is closed for three to four weeks in winter for scheduled maintenance.

The cleaning process

The basic tasks performed during the weekly cleaning process are:

  • Emptying of pool
  • Remove debris from pool floor
  • Clean and whitewash walls
  • Remove oysters
  • Perform maintenance on gates, pumps, etc.
  • Refill pool

The process is fully dependent on surf conditions and weather. In particular in high seas it is not possible to empty the pool or safely perform work within the pool. Whitewashing the walls cannot be performed in rain or if rain is forecast as the coating has to dry before the pool can be refilled.

If some or all of the clean cannot be achieved, staff either defer the clean until the following scheduled cleaning day or conduct the clean on an unscheduled cleaning day such as the following Monday. Whilst conducting the clean on an unscheduled day is disruptive to regular users and often attracts criticism, it needs to be balanced against the need to provide a clean facility.

Water quality

The cleanliness of the facility is heavily influenced by the water temperature and usage. During summer, warmer water accelerates algae growth resulting in an unsightly build up on the walls in the splash zone. While this results in the appearance of an unclean pool, regular testing indicates that the water quality is acceptable for public swimming. It should be noted that the water quality is heavily influenced by the naturally occurring water quality of the ocean and the debris present.

There is a balance between the need to flush out the water in the pool, keeping the water at an acceptable level and the risk of introducing discoloured water from the ocean. Council staff continuously monitor the cleanliness of both Ocean Baths facilities and work within the numerous constraints to achieve a balance between availability and cleanliness.