Western Australia’s Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority (MRA) CEO Kieran Kinsella told a Parliamentary Estimates committee in October that the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority “didn’t understand the science” behind the Elizabeth Quay water park during planning.
“In our first attempt, we did not have enough scrubbing capacity of the water,” he said. “We did not actually understand all of the science about how these things operate. It was a new initiative for us, but we have now come to that understanding.”
In February 2016, following routine water sampling, the WA Department of Health recommended the temporary closure of the park, less than a month after opening.
At the time, WA Health Chief Health Officer Tarun Weeramanthri said the closure followed the detection of bacteria (Pseudomonas type) in the water spray and amoebae in the waste discharge pipes, and was closed to allow for modifications to the park’s filtration systems. Earlier reports also suggested Naegleria fowleri bacteria had been found at the park.
Kinsella told the hearing that the level of usage was beyond what they anticipated.
“From our point of view it is not an exact science. All of these water parks have their own idiosyncrasies. They are not like for like; it is not like I am going to build you a 60,000-litre swimming pool and that is the sort of pump system you need to run it. They all have their own different operations.”
He said the upgrades to the filtration system, including doubling the number of filters, the adding of two UV filters, another pump and improved chemical calibration, had cost about $290,000.
In March, West Australian Premier Colin Barnett apologised to the family of a five-year-old girl who developed an eye infection that left her partially blind after playing in the water park at Elizabeth Quay.
In related developments, the NSW Baird government is reportedly looking to change the Public Health Act to ensure splash parks and interactive water fountains are included in the definition of a public swimming pool.