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Chennai swimming pools manage to keep head above water amid crisis

Even as swimming pools in Chennai have begun downsizing their operations, citizens want the Tamil Nadu Government to shut down swimming pools until the crisis is tackled.

Written by Shivani Ramakrishnan | Chennai | Updated: June 19, 2019 4:57:17 pm
Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu. Aquatic Complex, Chennai pool, swimming pool Aquatic Complex at Velachery, Chennai is maintained by the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu. Express Photo: Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu

As Chennai continues to reel under acute water crisis this summer, swimming pools run by the state and private operators have managed to stay afloat so far with help from water tankers.

The Aquatic Complex at Velachery, which is maintained by the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu, uses 24,000 litres of water to replenish its pools once every three days.

According to a staff member, Kandasamy, authorities are not facing much difficulty in managing the complex, which is used by district and state-level swimmers, and the public at large throughout the year.

“We have six borewells, which are used to supply water to the pools and the dressing rooms. Now, we are getting water from a tanker once in three days since the borewells have dried up,” he said.

The tanker supplies 24,000 litres of water once in three days, which is used to replenish the complex’s three pools, office and dressing rooms. As far as maintenance and cleaning are concerned, Kandasamy said that the pools are cleaned once in three days. “Water is filtered and sent to an in-house recycling plant, following which it is recirculated into the pools. Any water that is lost while cleaning is replaced by the tankers,” he said.

The Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu maintains two other swimming pools in Chennai – the Marina Swimming Pool at Marina beach and the District Sports Complex at Shenoy Nagar.

Authorities at the Madras Club Swimming Pool in Nandanam too claimed that they have been so far insulated from the water crisis.  The club pool is cleaned using a re-circulation system with fresh water and chlorine being added every day. The old water is discarded. According to a staff member, the filters are cleaned once a week while the pool is cleaned once a year or once in two years. “We book a private tanker once a week to deliver groundwater depending upon the purpose. The usual wait time is seven to ten days,” he said.

New Woodlands Hotel, Chennai swimming pool The pool at the New Woodlands Hotel, Mylapore is used by hotel visitors and the general public throughout the year. Express Photo: New Woodlands Hotel

It is no different at a popular veterinary clinic in Chennai. The clinic, which offers hydrotherapy for canines, also uses water from private tankers.

“We add pet friendly chemicals everyday and remove dog hair from the pool at the end of the day. We only change the water if it gets too dirty or if it changes colour”, said a veterinarian at the clinic. Water for the pool is procured from private tankers, which cater to the needs of the clinic, swimming pool, pet spa and the doctor’s house which is located above the clinic.

Sparrc Institute is one of the few sports fitness and medicine centres in Chennai that offers aqua therapy for rehabilitative exercises. “Since the pool is ozonated, we change the water every two weeks and use the old water for the plants. We remove debris everyday and water is circulated overnight while cleaning”, said an official from the institute.

He added that since the institute is a small set up, they were not facing any crisis at the moment, despite the pool receiving atleast 40 visitors a day. The pool is recharged using fresh water. “We buy drinking water cans to fill the pool. Currently, we are procuring an 8000-litre truck to supply drinking water for the pool and the institute”, he said.

The situation at the New Woodlands Hotel at Mylapore, however, is quite the opposite. “The swimming pool has been closed for the past three days,” said a staff member at the hotel, owing to the city-wide drought. Until then, the hotel had been relying on water from private tankers to supply water for their needs. “10 percent of the water is drawn from borewells while the remaining 90 per cent is supplied by water from private tankers, since we do not have access to government lines. This water is used for the entire hotel, including the pool,” he said.

Even as swimming pools in Chennai have begun downsizing their operations, residents want the Tamil Nadu Government to completely shut them down until the crisis is tackled. There has also been a call for apartment complexes to close their pools and government pools kept open only for training purposes.

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