Safety improvement for Bright river pool

A popular cool-off spot will be made safer this summer, with the removal of the Bright river pool water slide.

08 September 2021

Alpine Shire Council this week voted to remove the water slide and investigate the possibility of installing a safer replacement.

The slide will be removed over the coming months, before the annual weir board installation at the popular Ovens River swimming spot.

Alpine Shire Mayor John Forsyth said a recent review into Bright river pool operations shows that removal of the slide is the safest option for swimmers.

“We know the slide has been a long-time favourite for visitors and locals alike,” he said.

“Despite its popularity, we have data from last summer and a report from Life Saving Victoria to show that the slide isn’t safe enough to stay in place.

“We have a responsibility to ensure the river pool is as safe as possible for swimmers.

“The jumping platform will remain in place this season, and our lifeguards will continue to operate at the Bright river pool as normal.”

Council engages lifeguards to patrol the popular swimming spot from the first weekend of the summer school holidays until the end of the summer school holidays.

It is common for more than 100 people to be in the water in the area supervised by lifeguards at any given time.

A new tool was introduced during the 2020/21 summer season to improve the reporting of incidents at the Bright river pool, which have been historically high.

Cr Forsyth said the results are concerning.

“We found that in the first 31 days of lifeguard supervision there were 94 incidents, an average of three per day,” he said.

“Of the 94 reported incidents, 65 were assisted rescues - 60 of these rescues occurred at the jumping platform or slide.”

During the 2020/21 season a further risk assessment was carried out as part of Council's Health and Safety System review.

Council commissioned an assessment of the river pool operations including an inspection of the site by a representative of Life Saving Victoria (LSV). 

LSV noted that the Bright river pool slide pre-dates the Australian Standard associated with Amusement Rides and Devices, which sets out best practice for features such as waterslides. The slide is not considered to be consistent with some of the provisions of the standard.

Legal advice has also been sought regarding Council's liability associated with the operation of the river pool.

Cr Forsyth said in weighing up the views of LSV, legal advice and last year’s reported incidences, it would be irresponsible for Council to keep the slide in place.

“We will investigate a possible replacement for the slide that meets safety standards, and keep the community informed if an alternative is found,” he said.

“We have a duty of care to our community and visitors to ensure they’re as safe as possible in the water.”

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