One of Stonehaven’s star tourist attractions will re-open next week, subject to water tests.
The official opening of the town’s popular Open Air Pool, which has been a highlight of the local calendar for over 70 years, on May 28 was delayed last week after hydrocarbons were discovered in the water, meaning the facility had to be emptied, re-filled and reheated before bathers could be allowed in.
It is now expected to be ready for business on Thursday, June 9, although staff are hopeful it may open the day before - and if it does, all entry will be free.
Extensive testing has been on-going during the week to ensure that the water is of the highest quality.
Chairman of Friends of Stonehaven Open Air Pool Mike Robins said: “We’re very, very pleased with the progress that we’re making. The problem we have had here, it has been very difficult to establish what it was – there has been quite a drawn out checking procedure, with tests done on the sea and different aspects of the pool but nothing has come up.
“We drained the pool and tested the sea before we started to draw in a new intake for the pool and then tested it again once it was full - everything is absolutely fine, we do not have the problem with the hydrocarbons that we had before.
“Will we ever know where they came from? There has been lots of speculation but we do not have a definitive answer and probably never will.”
He added: “We will now start the backwashing to get rid of the sediment and everything else, then it will be the chemical process just to get it in balance so it is perfectly usable for the general public.
“The final tests, bacterial tests, will take place on Monday and everything being equal we should get a result within 24 to 48 hours. We hope the pool can open on Wednesday so people can enjoy a free day’s swimming at the facility and residents are advised to check with staff at the indoor pool for an update.”
Mr Robins said: “It was the fact that all the hard work had been done - we had quite a severe winter, the Friends had worked very hard to get the new boilers installed and all the painting and decorating that goes on had all been done, so it has been very, very frustrating.
“We are really excited to get the pool open because we will be using the brand new boilers for the first time which will heat the water much quicker and efficiently. Everything is looking good.”
He added: “We are incredibly grateful to the general public because the way people look forward to the opening of the pool – their absolute love and affinity to the pool – it is a really, really big event and then for it not to happen was quite crushing.
“Sooner rather than later we will be up and running and people will be able to take advantage of it – if we get the numbers through the turnstiles then that will guarantee that we will be here next year and for many years to come.
“Last year was good, but we’re hoping to do better this year, even though we’ve had the set-back and lost a week and a half.”
Mr Robins said that he sympathised with those swimmers who would be penalised by the summer closure of the indoor pool, announced by Aberdeenshire Council as part of a series of budget cuts, but added: “We hope that people will cross the road and use us. We are really trying to make the pool more of a destination for use on a regular basis, for activities, rather than just because the sun’s shining. We want to make it a destination point and a hub of activities for people to get involved in.”
Mr Robins said they were looking into setting up things like junior water polo, rookie lifeguarding lessons and various different leagues if people proved keen.
Aberdeenshire Council’s Sports and Leisure Manager, Tim Stephen, said: “We apologise for any inconvenience and although it was disappointing to delay the opening of the pool we would assure customers that everything possible is being done to ensure the highest levels of water quality and ensure people’s safety.”
More information regarding Stonehaven Open Air Pool is available at www.stonehavenopenairpool.co.uk/