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The City of Newcastle will soon appoint a head contractor to deliver the Stage 1 upgrade of Newcastle Ocean Baths, with tenders now closed for the works – which includes constructing three new submersible pump sets. 

The Newcastle Ocean Baths upgrade is a staged project with the pools, promenades and pumps prioritised for Stage 1 while the upper concourse and pavilion building will be considered in Stage 2, with the contract set to be announced at the October Council meeting. 

Newcastle Deputy Lord Mayor, Declan Clausen, said a less visible but highly important part of the Stage 1 work is the upgrade of the pumps which will see three new submersible pump sets constructed adjacent to the existing pump station, which is being retained as a heritage feature.

“Newcastle Ocean Baths is approximately four times the size of an olympic-sized swimming pool and holds around 6.5 million litres of water,” Mr Clausen said.

“Currently the pool is operated by being filled and drained once a week with no or limited circulated water in-between when the oceans are calm, as is often the case during peak-use periods in summer.

“A new pump system with capacity to turn the pool water over in six hours will significantly improve water quality and clarity.”

City of Newcastle is committed to funding the renewal of Newcastle Ocean Baths and has directed the $9.5 million recovered from the sale of the Frederick Ash Building towards the project.

Stage 1 of the Newcastle Ocean Baths upgrade also received $3 million in funding from the NSW Government under the NSW Public Spaces Legacy Program.

City of Newcastle Acting Director of Infrastructure and Property, Joanne Rigby, said six pumping system options were considered before a final wet well structure was specified to deliver improvements to health and safety and equipment reliability and maintainability.

“There is a lot to consider for infrastructure located in a seawater environment. Currently we need to replace the pumps every three months, however we expect to get up to six years of life from the new pump system,” Ms Rigby said.

“Safety for our pool maintenance team will also be improved with the ability to operate the pump system remotely, minimising the need to access the infrastructure which, in the current location in large swell events, is hazardous or just not possible.”

The new pump system will be located underground to the north of the existing pump house with only the pump station access lids being visible.

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