Good news for Walgett, the local pool will be reopened. That is, if repairs run on time.
After months of campaigning by the Walgett community, the NSW government has agreed to give the Walgett Shire Council a one-off grant of $375,000 to restore access to the much-loved facility.
"With hot and dry conditions forecast, we're thrilled to deliver funding to repair Walgett Memorial Pool and welcome back community members for the upcoming summer," NSW Premier Chris Minns said.
"For many towns the local swimming pool is much more than a place to swim - it's a community hub that brings families and friends together and provides a space for young people to participate in positive social and recreational activities."
In July, the community faced the possibility of hour-long bus trips to Lightning Ridge to go swimming after the council said the pool would have to be decommissioned. Council recently rescinded its motion to decommission the pool, in hopes of getting it open.
The new funding will allow short-term remediation works to be undertaken, including fixing water leaks, repairing the filtration system, and making safety improvements.
Member for Barwon Roy Butler, who has long been campaigning for community pools across his electorate to be refurbished, welcomed the funding.
"Many communities in Barwon have a strong affinity with water so it is important they have access to learn-to-swim and water safety programs, like those offered at local pools," he said.
"Many of the pools in Barwon were built in the post-war era, Walgett was one of several built around the same time with government funding, but most are nearing the end of their life or need significant upgrades.
"It is great to see that Walgett pool will be repaired and remediated to keep it open for the summer."
But member for Dubbo Dugald Saunders, leader of the NSW Nationals, questioned why it took so long for the government to splash money into the pool refurbishment.
"There's no doubt this funding is welcomed and it's being directed towards a very worthwhile project, but the big question is why did it take so long for the Government to act?," Mr Saunders said.
"Premier Chris Minns and Minister for Western NSW Tara Moriarty knew about the problem in July and acted on it in October, so clearly they were swimming in the slow lane, which simply isn't good enough.
"As soon as the council announced the pool would be decommissioned, we called for immediate action to ensure the work would be done before summer, but now three months have already been wasted."
Shadow minister for Western NSW Sarah Mitchell said she hopes there are no further delays.
"Labor says the work will take about ten weeks to complete, so if it starts straight away, the pool will be open just before Christmas, which is a pretty tight deadline and doesn't account for any delays," she said.
"For the community's sake I hope things go like clockwork because families simply can't put up with that kind of heat and have nowhere to go over the holiday period."
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