Whopping bill for Waterland

THE future of an iconic, toddler-friendly waterpark in Maylands is in doubt after a council review revealed potentially lethal safety issues that would require $2.7 million to fix.

A $20,000 report of Waterland reveals several areas of the park fail to meet legislative standards or need urgent maintenance, including:

• all metal objects bigger than 100mm need to be earthed to prevent electrocution;

• chlorine gas is too close to residents and needs to be replaced with liquid chlorine;

• water treatment does not meet current legislative standards.

The facility was temporarily shut twice over summer to manage bacteria levels in the pool and to repair an underground pipe.

Bayswater mayor Sylvan Albert says the 40-year-old facility, located on the Maylands Peninsula, is reaching the end of its usable life: “Council will consider the future strategic direction of Waterland at next week’s ordinary council meeting,” he says, adding the staff working at Waterland from November to April split their time between it and Bayswater Waves.

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• Waterland is closed for winter—but will it ever re-open? Photos by Stephen Pollock

Waterland has five splash pools, up to 60cm deep, a fountain, playgrounds, BBQs and a kiosk.

Catherine Ehrhardt, who played in the waterpark as a child and till recently took her own kids there, says it is an “icon of Maylands”. “It’s a local gem and fills an important niche for toddlers and young kids who cannot swim yet,” she says.

“Locals have always taken their children there and it is kind of unknown outside the suburb, so it wasn’t too busy in the summer.

“It needs some love though: I don’t think the waterfall has ever worked and the fountains are always on the blink.

“The pools are unheated and I remember kids lips turning blue in the summer,” she laughs, “but you know, with a few tweaks and longer opening hours, it could be back to its former glory.”

Cr Stephanie Coates, who has taken her three kids to Waterland, says it is “well-loved” in the community and has a quaint old-school charm.

“It does need updating and some TLC, so hopefully we can thrash out a solution at council.”

The general consensus on the Waterland Facebook page and various family websites, is that the park is cheap and cheerful, charging just $4.10 for adults and $3.40 for children.

In 2014-15, 32,296 people visited the park, a whopping 10,228 drop from the year before.

Council officers say closures for repair and a new water park in Bullsbrook have increased competition. The council has been facing big maintenance bills for various ageing facilities that it owns, including sports clubs and retirement homes.

The spiralling costs have prompted the council to look at offloading sites or encouraging organisations who hire council premises to become more self-sufficient.

Cr Albert notes the huge bill for Waterland is not a result of any neglect: “It is noted that council has allocated on average over $150,000 towards the upkeep of the Maylands Waterland facility and its grounds in each of the last three financial years,” he says.

“From time to time facilities reach the end of their usable life in their current form and require major works to either stay open or provide a different service to the community into the future.”

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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