The future of Valentine Hydrotherapy Pools is up in the air as utility costs rise.
The centre - which caters to social swimmers, disability groups and rehabilitation patients - received a $15,000 gas bill for the last month, almost triple the cost of previous months.
Valentine Hydrotherapy Pools administration manager Nichole Turton said this has put the future of the already struggling community pool in doubt.
"We never really financially recovered from the two COVID-19 lockdowns, we have had less people coming through the gate because when we shut down some people found elsewhere to go," said Ms Turton.
"In the 2021 financial year we lost $88,000, and that doesn't include the first three months of the COVID shutdown in 2020. We spent a lot that year upgrading the centre so that we could actually reopen it and we haven't returned.
"These things combined with the rising cost of utilities means we are in a really bad financial situation."
The centre has been open since 1965 and is run mostly by volunteers. Less volunteers have been putting their hand up to help this year, forcing the centre to spend more on paid employees.
Its funds come from entry and pool hire fees, which bring in less revenue during the winter season.
Staff hope companies, corporate bodies and local businesses will financially back the venue to keep its head above water.
"We have a special needs teacher that teaches disadvantaged kids from babies right through to adults. There is a swim school that operates out of the centre. A lot of disabled or injured people use it for their rehabilitation so it would be devastating to close," said Ms Turton.
"It's used by Hunter Special Olympics training squad and there are people that physically cannot travel to Toronto to use their pool and they rely on us being in the area for their quality of life."
In 2019 the centre called on Lake Macquarie council to take over the facility after doubt was cast over whether they could financially continue to operate.
The decision was made for the facility to continue to serve as a community pool.
Ms Turton said the centre has received various grants, but they still leave a large financial gap that needs to be covered.
"We got a $36,000 grant to replace the two filters for our 25-metre pool, but the actual cost to replace them is $44,000 so that leaves a gap which we need to be able to fill so we can get repairs done around the centre," she said.
As the only hydrotherapy pool in Valentine, the facility welcomes over 400 hydrotherapy patients, 1200 swim school students and 100 regulars six days a week.
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