PUBLIC pools may need more lifeguards after regulators introduced changes to operating guidelines, putting pressure on community run and smaller facilities.
But volunteers say the changes are needed to keep pool patrons safe.
The Campaspe Shire Council has changed its opening hours to reduce the cost of making changes.
But Greater Bendigo, Macedon Ranges, and Mount Alexander councils pools hours will remain the same.
For these shires lifeguard numbers will also remain steady with the new code of practice.
The Safer Public Pools Code of Practice came into effect in November 2018.
Changes affect both council and community run pools.
Golden Square Pool committee president Sam Kane said the facility noticed during the January heatwave that it had to increase lifeguard staff.
Mr Kane said the pool wanted to make sure it had appropriate staff based on weather as well as patronage.
He said the pool had reviewed all of its practices during the off-season.
Mr Kane said community pools around the state were under pressure with operating costs such as power and water, and relying on volunteers who often worked full time.
He said Golden Square was working with a network of community pools to best understand and implement the guidelines.
"The changes to the guidelines are... a step forward, a positive step to ensuring that the safety of patrons is the number one priority at aquatic facilities," Mr Kane said.
"For community pools in particular it just means that we have to review our processes and make changes to the way that we have done things in the past."
Royal Lifesaving Society national manager of operations Craig Roberts said the safer public pools code of practice was a result of inquests into drowning deaths in Victoria.
Mr Roberts said the Victorian government had adopted an industry code of practice.
He said the guidelines' local approach to safety, requiring individual facilities to assess their risk, was the key change.
Mr Roberts said for some pools it would be business-as-usual as the guidelines came in, but for others it would mean a more robust approach to managing risks and safety.
"Ultimately it's about increasing participation in swimming and recreation activity and reducing drowning," Mr Roberts said.
"The changes that have been happening over the last five years, there's clear evidence [for them]. We had an average of five a year drownings in public pools. Last year we had one nationally."
Campaspe Shire Mayor Adrian Weston said the council had shifted its opening temperature procedures from 20 degrees, to 25 degrees or higher, to minimise increased cost of lifeguards.
The lifeguard staffing recommendations in the new guidelines are based on patrons' swimming ability, line of site as well as distance to emergency services.
Cr Weston said based on last year's data pools would open 12-14 days less a year.
Rochester, Colbinabbin, Lockington, Kyabram, Rushworth, Tongala and Stanhope were the pools affected by the change.
Read more: City's pools concerns turn to spending
City of Greater Bendigo manager of Active and Healthy Lifestyles Lincoln Fitzgerald said the city was progressively implementing the new guidelines.
Mr Fitzgerald said there would be no changes to opening hours at any city pools.
He said there had been no change to lifeguard numbers at Greater Bendigo pools.
Mount Alexander Shire Council confirmed a many changes had already been incorporated into the operations of its pools.
The council has pools at Castlemaine, Harcourt, Maldon and Newstead.
The council confirmed opening hours would stay the same.
All pools in the council area already had two lifeguards, the council said.
Macedon Ranges Shire Council director Community Wellbeing Karen Stevens said the Kyneton pool's opening hours would not change based on the revised guidelines.
Ms Stevens said risk assessments would not require the council to roster any additional lifeguards.
Loddon and Central Goldfields shire councils were approached for comment.
Campaspe shire's new pool hours
There are seven pools within the shire, and each has flexible hours depending on the temperature.
All of the pools are closed in the afternoon if the forecast is below 25 degrees, though Kyabram and Rochester's morning hours remain as usual.
If the temperature is forecast between 25 and 32 degrees, the pools use standard operating hours.
If the heat is above 32 degrees, the pools will open for up to 90 minutes later, attendance permitting.
Standard opening hours
Colbinabbin, Lockington, Stanhope, Rushworth and Tongala: 3pm to 7pm.
Rochester and Kyabram: 6.30am to 8am and 3pm to 7pm on weekdays, and 1pm to 7pm on weekends. During school holidays, the pools are open from 6.30am to 8am and 1pm to 7pm on weekdays, and 1pm to 7pm on weekends.
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