Port Stephens Council votes to seek a consultant's opinion of the safety of Lemon Tree Passage tidal pool

TIDAL POOL: What the pontoon-ringed pool looked like after a $1.3 million upgrade to boating facilities at Lemon Tree Passage. Picture: Supplied
TIDAL POOL: What the pontoon-ringed pool looked like after a $1.3 million upgrade to boating facilities at Lemon Tree Passage. Picture: Supplied

Fears that a child could drown if caught in netting at the Lemon Tree Passage tidal pool has prompted support for an independent assessment.

At low tide the net is able to go slack and potentially entangle a young swimmer beneath the water even though Port Stephens Council said it had been able to minimise the risk through a series of design tweaks.

Cr John Nell brought the matter before Port Stephens Council on Tuesday night based on the fears people had shared with him.

“After expressing their misgivings I’m not sure what to do but to seek another opinion,” he said.

Cr John Nell.

Cr John Nell.

“A structure like this attracts little kids to muck around and by nature they will go toward areas they shouldn’t.”

The tidal pool was upgraded under the Better Boating Program in 2016 where the swimming area adjoins launching facilities.

BEFORE: What the tidal pool at Lemon Tree Passage used to look like. Picture: Supplied

BEFORE: What the tidal pool at Lemon Tree Passage used to look like. Picture: Supplied

The net is suspended beneath a floating pontoon, weighted to the pool floor.

“Differing weights were trialed to find the right balance between weighting the net down without pulling the floating pontoon below the water level,” the council’s asset section manager John Maretich explained to councillors in his report.

“The result was to place lengths of chain at intervals along the net to hold the webbing in a vertical position.”

Not withstanding some of the larger, faster tides Mr Maretich said “this treatment was seen to be working” after several inspections.

But Cr Nell said it still didn’t sit well with him.

“I can’t see for the life of me how a net wouldn’t bulge under a two-metre tide off a 100 metres pontoon,” he said.

Cr Steve Tucker.

Cr Steve Tucker.

Cr Steve Tucker, who lives a short distance from the facility, was at the opening of the facility in December 2016.

Having fought for the facilities he expressed some concerns about a review process.

I will support it as long as this isn’t a precursor to closing the pool down.

Cr Steve Tucker

“The problem has all but been eliminated. [But] if we need to get another opinion and pay for it, then I support.”

The motion to engage a consultant to undertake the assessment was passed.

The new boat ramp, pontoons and tidal pool nets were part of a $1.3 million upgrade.

The pontoon and net arrangement replaced the old tidal pool system which suspended nets from a series of pylons. 

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