The Baths iconic teal colour is returned to the bleachers | Supplied
A reopening date for the Newcastle Ocean Baths is likely to be announced in the coming weeks with the final checks being conducted.
Testing and commissioning of the newly installed pump system is being carried out over the next fortnight and will see the pools filled with sea water and then emptied for the first time.
Newcastle Council Project Management Office executive manager Robert Dudgeon said this final stage of testing is a critical step toward reopening the Baths for swimmers.
“The testing that commences today will run for approximately two weeks to confirm everything is working as it should when the baths are filled with water from the ocean, and also to provide training opportunities for our staff,” Mr Dudgeon said.
“Once the testing phase is complete, we will drain the pool so that the finishing touches can be applied, and we will then re-fill the pool ahead of the recommencement of swimming.”
The new pump system was recently installed in a purpose-built wet well next to the old pumphouse structure.
The pumps have the capacity to completely replace the water in the baths within six hours which the council described as a significant improvement on the old system, which was dependent on tidal movement to refill the baths after cleaning.
A series of preliminary tests were conducted on the new system with the specialised manufacturer in Europe, ahead of the equipment being shipped to Australia for installation earlier this year.
The remaining components were sourced from a local Newcastle supplier, who will help maintain the new system moving forward.
Construction is also continuing around the baths including on the boardwalk and bleacher seating, where the iconic teal green paint is being re-applied.
“We know the community are excited to return to the pool, and it’s really important that we complete the required testing to ensure the pool is safe and ready for swimming,” Mr Dudgeon said.
That sentiment was echoed by Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen who revealed that an official reopening date was on the horizon.
“The Newcastle Ocean Baths have been a treasured part of our community for the past 100 years, so it’s exciting to have reached this milestone in their revitalisation,” Cr Clausen said.
“We anticipate swimming will be given the green light sometime next month and should be in a position to announce the reopening date in the coming weeks.”
Meantime, progress is being made on stage two of the project, following community input into preliminary options for the pavilion buildings earlier this year.
Principal Design Consultant Tonkin Zulaikha Greer is working to prepare concepts for the upgrade of the pavilion buildings, including the heritage façade.
The $9.5 million proceeds from the sale of City of Newcastle’s Fred Ash building is helping fund the Newcastle Ocean Baths stage one upgrade along with $3 million in funding from the NSW Government’s Public Spaces Legacy Program. The NSW Public Spaces Legacy Program is an investment in high quality public open space and delivers vital infrastructure for communities to love the place they live.