The Costs of Building and Operating Public Pools

A number of communities around the Northwest are facing the decision to repair or replace aging public swimming pools. And the cost has risen significantly!

An outdoor pool built in 1948 for $40,000 would cost nearly $2 million today just to renovate and upgrade the existing structure. A basic indoor pool built in 1979 for $2 million would cost upward of $10 to $12 million now.

The public’s expectations of a public pool have changed, too. Public pools in some towns are becoming more than a place to learn to swim and cool off on a hot day. Pools are incorporated into year-round aquatic centers that provide a variety of physical fitness and recreation activities. Costs to build these facilities can range from $20 to $78 million.

And then there are the ongoing expenses of operations and repair. Personnel, heat, maintenance, materials and supplies for a year-round indoor pool facility cost at least half a million dollars annually.

The Shelk Foundation report, Rural Oregon Public Pools: A Comparison of Communities, Amenities, and Costs, comes to the conclusion that the most practical and likely funding mechanism for building and operating public swimming pools and recreation centers is a taxing district. Grants, donations and sponsorships comprise an important piece of the funding strategy, but are not enough.

cover photoedit[3]

The report also highlights a number of small communities in rural Oregon that recently have built and are operating public pools.

The common factors are for their success? Developing a thoughtful and realistic financial plan to pay for construction and operations, building strong, broad-based community support and partnerships, and finally going to the voters with a reasonable bond request.

Our report was written to share information, facts and data that may help other communities plan the construction of a new pool. To order your free copy, email: