Pool reports convince ex-engineer

An ex-civil engineer training for his second attempt at swimming the length of Lake Wanaka says the Queenstown Lakes District Council made the right call in closing Wanaka's public pool because of earthquake risks.

Roger North said the Wanaka Community Pool's independent engineering reports made public by the council yesterday ''smelt of a bottomless pit of expense and problems'' and it was time to ''get on with a new solution''.

Mr North came close to completing a 45km solo swim of Lake Wanaka in February and had been visiting the pool in Plantation Rd regularly while working towards another record attempt, when its doors were suddenly shut last Friday.

While he was ''incredibly gutted'' over the loss of his training venue, his engineering background left him with no doubt the council had made the only decision possible given the reports' findings.

Wanaka resident and weekly pool user Quentin Smith said he had put considerable pressure on the council to release the reports, including an Official Information Act request which was initially declined.

It was only after speaking with Queenstown Mayor Vanessa van Uden the reports became publicly available, he said.

Mr North considered it ''disappointing and painful'' so much effort had been required from Mr Smith to see the reports.

''I think the truth sets you free and they [the QLDC] had nothing to hide. The public are not all lay people.

Some of them are perfectly capable of absorbing the detail in the report,'' Mr North said.

Both reports on the pool building were prepared by Holmes Consulting Group, in Queenstown, and are being peer reviewed at present.

The first is based on a review of the 1991-92 structural drawings of the pool building and assesses its seismic capacity as 23% of the new building standard, which means it is classified as earthquake prone under the Building Act 2004.

It concludes the building has only the capacity to resist a one-in-25-year earthquake as opposed to a 1-in-500-year event.

The second report is based on a physical assessment of the building.

Holmes engineers found a timber purlin specified in the structural drawings was absent, and identified six other issues that reduced the building's structural strength.

That report concludes the building meets only 20% of the new building standard.

The QLDC received the second report last week and sought independent legal advice before closing the pool until further notice.

After reading the reports, Mr Smith agreed they were ''credible'' and showed the pool building was well past its use-by date.

It was time to ''move on'' and start planning a new pool alongside the future Wanaka Sports Facility at the Three Parks subdivision, while investigating reasonable solutions to keep the pool running in the short term, Mr Smith said.

''I don't think Wanaka is being well-served for sporting facilities in general and that's why this needs to be prioritised and we need to stop talking about it and get on with it.''

Deputy mayor Lyal Cocks considered it ''dead money'' to invest further in the Plantation Rd pool site.

''Especially now we know the state of the current pool complex. Now's the time to bring forward building the new pool with the sports facility at the chosen Three Parks site.''

Mr North, who is still deciding if he will commit to commuting to Cromwell for his swim sessions, believed the existing site was still the best location for a pool, but said he would support Three Parks if it meant getting on with the job.

Councillors will discuss interim pool solutions before their scheduled meeting at 1pm today, when Ms van Uden will make a public statement on the situation.

lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz