NOT HAPPY: An announcement that Emerald Aquatic Centre's water slides would close for the swimming season hasn't gone down well with the community.
NOT HAPPY: An announcement that Emerald Aquatic Centre's water slides would close for the swimming season hasn't gone down well with the community. Taylor Battersby

Problems with pool

THE council says it will do what it can to re-open Emerald's water slide after the lessee announced an indefinite closure.

News that the slides would close for the full swimming season triggered a tirade of angry responses from the community.

Residents complained of high pool entry fees and limited and unreliable opening hours as well as the water slide "white elephant”.

Families that had been looking forward to cooling off in the summer vented their frustration and called for a resolution.

Father-of-three Jason Johnston said the Emerald Aquatic Centre was expensive and unreliable so his family preferred making the 50km drive to the Capella pool.

"I think the issue is bigger than the slide,” Mr Johnston said. "I think there needs to be a total re-evaluation.

"We pay $380 for a family season pass in Capella and in Emerald it costs us $600.

"People are avoiding the pool because of the cost. They need to increase the opening hours. When you go there in mid-summer after work, you're only in the pool 20 minutes and they're telling you to jump out of the pool.”

The Emerald Aquatic Centre's assets are owned by the Central Highlands Regional Council and leased by Bobtrac, which also built the waterslide with a loan from council.

Council CEO Scott Mason said the council was concerned about a service being taken way from the community and would hold talks with the lessee.

Mr Mason said issues to be considered included an apparent reduction in patronage because of entry costs. Adults pay $5 for entry while children and pensioners are charged $4.

"We believe an increase in admission fees led to lower numbers through the facility,” Mr Mason said.

"We have anecdotal feedback that opening hours have not been consistent, which can impact on revenue.

"We need to sit down with the lessee and work through these and other issues. I'm hopeful we can reach a positive outcome.”

Mr Mason said the decision to build the slides had been supported by council as innovative and entrepreneurial.

Pool user Liana Lomax, 31, who attends about once a week for hydrotherapy, said she would swim more often if the price was affordable.

"The prices are ridiculous on top of the fact that the pool is not open enough,” she said.

Bobtrac was contacted for comment but did not respond.