A POOL company has had to pay $72,400 to an Echuca couple whose pool was damaged after more than 42,000 litres of water escaped from it.
The matter against FRP Pools and Spas, trading as Summertime Pools and Spas, was heard in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal last month.
Three to four years after the 10m by 4m pool was installed at the couple’s Echuca Village property, the bottom became uneven, with dips up to 15cm deep.
They claim it occurred after 42,000 litres of water escaped from the pool and flowed underneath the fibreglass shell.
The tribunal heard maintenance staff had visited the property several times after the pool owners shared concerns about the water continually turning green because of an undersized filtration machine and pipes.
One day in 2012, a technician attended the house and removed the lid from the chlorinator before leaving to get some spare parts, to ‘‘return the next day’’.
The next day, the pool was nearly empty.
The couple believe the automatic filtration system came on as programmed at 4am, and it pumped the contents of the pool out through the disconnected inflow feeder pipe.
There was no sign of where the water had gone, but the owners said it must have flowed back into the sandy trench dug to house the pool pipes before flowing around and under the pool shell, saturating the crushed rock base and the surrounding soil.
A few weeks later, they noticed warping on the pool floor, the ledges and steps had become uneven and there were cracks in the pavers.
They said the damage has increased over time, describing it as ‘‘irreparable’’.
During the hearing, Summertime Pools said it had not sent any employee to the property that day and therefore it cannot be responsible for the pool emptying.
The company produced records from the Bureau of Meteorology which indicated on March 7, 2012, there had been very heavy rainfall and localised flooding in the area around Echuca.
But the owners said there had not been any flooding on their property.
The company claimed concrete could be used to repair the damage, which would be less expensive than a full replacement, but could not give a reasonable explanation how the pop-up jets or in-pool cleaning system could then operate.
In her ruling, VCAT senior member Suzanne Kirton said the appropriate solution was a complete pool replacement.
Summertime Pools were found to be in breach of the Australian Consumer Law and the Domestic Building Contracts Act and liable to the applicants for the damage.
‘‘I am satisfied that the applicants are entitled to an order for the amount it will reasonably cost to replace their pool with an equivalent,’’ she said.