H2O Xtream upgrade project
We sought community feedback on two options—a partial or full upgrade—as part of the development of the Long Term Plan 2021 – 2031. With 79% of respondents submitting their preference for the full upgrade, in June 2021 Council approved proceeding with the full upgrade starting this current year (2022).
Due to escalating costs across our infrastructure projects, we've had to consider some additional options for how we deliver this project to ensure what we plan to do remains affordable for the community.
It’s hard to believe that H2O Xtream is over 25 years old. It has served our community and visitors from all over the region well in that time. But the facility is ageing; it requires a lot of expensive, ongoing maintenance and needs a complete overhaul. And as we've said before, doing nothing is not an option.
Our detailed design work and planning highlighted the need for additional investment to make sure H2O Xtream meets our community’s current and future needs.
The drivers for the design and associated works is to respond to the changing face of our community, with an increase in both elderly and young family patrons; to retain our niche position as a fun destination in the regional aquatics market; maximise opportunities for operational cost savings; and create a more sustainable facility.
The full upgrade will result in an increase of approximately 49% more water space and 55% more floor space.
In addition to the two new water spaces proposed, key components are:
- Sustainability investment: The replacement of the gas boiler heating with an electric heat pump system and the plant upgrade to use modern, safer filtration (replacing out dated technology). It is estimated the heat pump should reduce running costs of the upgraded facility by $109,000 per year (a 25% saving on current) and result in an 80% reduction in CO2.
- Hydroslide rebuild: A significant upgrade of the slides further enhances the aquatic offerings to the community and will renew H2O Xtream’s reputation for aquatic fun. Due to the site footprint available, it became apparent that reconfiguration of the hydro slides was required to accommodate both additions in new water space and improved pedestrian access to parts of the facility (including new water space). Meanwhile further asset investigation has shown the slide tower needs significant upgrading.
What has changed
Since July 2021, the cost of the full upgrade that was supported and approved in the Long Term Plan 2021 – 2031 in June 2021 has increased substantially.
The drivers for the cost increase are largely outside of our control due to the exceptional inflationary environment that the construction sector is operating in. Prices for labour, materials, freight, services, supply and pandemic induced uncertainty and risk are all contributing to this. And this is the case across a range of our infrastructure projects.
The project design and planning are very advanced and have factored in escalations and contingencies in the revised estimates and right now we have confidence in this. But to deliver what we said we would and achieve what the community asked for, is simply going to cost more than the budget we have approved.
Some of the works required are not discretionary or optional, as there is substantial asset renewal and replacement work included in the upgrade project. Due to the inherent complexity of aquatic facilities, the scope can't easily be reduced or changed - major works and upgrades to pools and their plant, services and other systems need to be done well and done right.
What we're doing now
We are proceeding with the full upgrade at a revised cost of $51 M over years 2022 – 2024 to achieve an upgraded, state-of-the-art aquatic facility for our city.
While higher in cost than planned, this option provides the overall least cost and highest benefit over the shortest timeframe. It also contains less uncertainty (but not zero) with regard to further cost escalations and complexity of delivery.
One further change is that the outdoor splash pad has been removed from the design due to a combination of site and operational constraints meaning it is no longer feasible to build this item.
This flyover video and the photo gallery below provides some glimpses of what the full upgrade may look like once all works or stages are completed.