'Protect our sporting heritage', Olympian Michelle Ford says as Carss Park pool closes

Value our sporting heritage: Michelle Ford (centre) and supporters inside Carss Park Pool including young swimmer Valentina, right. Picture: John Veage
Value our sporting heritage: Michelle Ford (centre) and supporters inside Carss Park Pool including young swimmer Valentina, right. Picture: John Veage

Olympic gold medallist swimmer Michelle Ford says she can't understand my Georges River Council is not valuing the Kogarah War Memorial Pool as part of Australia's sporting heritage.

The council announced yesterday the closure of the pool following a direction for the NSW Environment Protection Authority that it was polluting Kogarah Bay due to leaking pipes.

Michelle Ford trained at the pool under legendary coach Dick Caine along with many other champions including Janelle Elford, Karen Phillips, Stacey Gartrell and Susie Maroney.

"It is the responsibility of the government authorities to protect the sporting heritage and ensure future generations have the best possible infrastructure to continue in making Australia one of the greatest sporting nations," Ms Ford said.

"The Prime Minister, the Sports Commission, Australian Swimming have all pleaded their support yet council has not made comment," she said.

"The community wants this pool to remain; with technology today I struggle to understand why council cannot see the value of maintaining the paternity of Carss Park Memorial pool."

Last May, Ms Ford called on Georges River Council to release the two engineers reports on the condition of Kogarah War Memorial Pool at Carss Park so she can help secure promised funding for its future.

Ms Ford urged the council to say when the reports will be released so that the scope of works required is known and funding can be sourced.

"I've been able to secure funding and support from the Federal Government and Sports Australia and they have said whatever it takes to keep the pool; that we have to protect our sporting heritage and infrastructure," she said at the time.

And in March, residents presented a 10,700 signature petition to the council which helped secure funding for the pool to reopen for the 2019-2020 summer swimming season.

The pool has gained support from the highest office in the land, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison promising $5 million towards its refurbishment.

But Georges River mayor Kevin Greene said that the pool will not reopen on August 4 as previously advised.

The pool will be immediately drained to prevent further pollution of local waterways.

"Recently, the pool was closed for winter maintenance, however following a direction from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in relation to urgent environmental concerns, Council has taken immediate action to close the pool to prevent further pollution into the Georges River.

"Council has a moral and legal obligation to our community to ensure that further pollution of Kogarah Bay does not occur."

Councillor Green said the council has worked with the NSW EPA, an independent statutory authority, to identify the source of polluted water, saying,

"It is now confirmed that pollution of the river is occurring as a direct result of leaks due to the pool's age, deteriorated condition and ground subsidence.

"The Olympic pool has severe cracking across major sections of the pool and its foundations. The structural integrity of the pool and its foundation has been failing for some time and a series of independent engineering reports dating back to 2011 foreshadowed that it would only be a matter of time until the pool structure completely failed.

"To prevent any further detrimental effect to our local waterways the pools will immediately be drained of water," he said.

The community has reacted with dismay and anger at the news of the pool's closure.

"We are absolutely devastated right now," said Natalie Mort of the Save Carss Park Pool Movement.

"Carss Park Pool has serviced hundreds of thousands of kids and adults since 1965 and that now is to be brushed aside by Council despite a recent commitment by them to keep the pool open for the 2019/20 year while renovation evaluations were being made.

"On top of this a $5 million commitment was made by Scott Morrison in the recent Federal election, so we're bemused as to why funds aren't allocated to address any environmental concerns that Council may have with the pool."

A public information session on the action that the Council has taken will be held next Monday at the Georges River Civic Centre, Dragon Room, Corner MacMahon and Dora Streets, Hurstville from 7.00pm-8.00pm.

All community members are welcome to attend.

To register your attendance to this information session visit

www.georgesriver.nsw.gov.au or for more information contact Council on 9330 6400.