Queenstown’s main swimming pool has been forced to close 46 times this year because of poo.
The leisure pool in the Events Centre’s Alpine Aqualand complex still has an average of one ‘code brown’ every week.
It’s closed six times in the last six weeks alone.
Biological contamination sees the pool closed for four hours a time, while poos are removed by staff and the entire body of water is passed through filters three times.
Council sport and recreation manager Rachelle Greene reckons the likely culprits are primary school-age kids - rather than one sole phantom pooper.
And she’s asking parents to watch out for ‘that look’ on their faces while swimming.
Greene says: “The under-threes all have to wear swimmer nappies and tight togs, so I think it’s more likely to be children who are five or six.
“Their parents assume they’re OK because they’re toilet trained but they’re actually not okay.”
The pool closed six out of seven consecutive Monday afternoons in February and March, which prompted an awareness campaign.
Huge signs saying “Don’t be a party pooper” were put up in the foyer.
Greene says they sent letters to parents of children in swim classes around that time, reminding them children need to be taken to the toilet before they swim, and sometimes taken out of the pool, especially if they’ve been swimming for a long period.
The vast majority of incidents are in the “warm, relaxing” leisure pool.
“We’ve had a couple of very honest parents who’ve seen it happen and come up and told us, you get that occasionally.
“But more often than not it’s someone who comes up and says ‘oh my god, there’s a poo in the pool’.”
Lost revenue and clean-up costs range from $200 to $1000 a time. Greene says the clean-up is best industry standard and removes risk.
“It’s really operationally frustrating and frustrating for our users too. But rather than name and shame, although sometimes I feel like it, we really want to operate on prevention.”
Greene says they’re relying on parents to do their bit.
“We clean up afterwards and deal with that risk but we can’t really monitor kids to see if they’ve got a look on their face - the parents might know the look on the face.”