Nearly one in two nautical centers heat their pools with gas, the energy whose price has soared the most this year. What increase a little more the cost of operating municipal swimming pools that the entrance price is very far from covering.
For several days, we have been talking about these municipal swimming pools which must close, because energy prices are soaring. To fully understand the financial stakes of this file, it is necessary to look at the cost of operating a swimming pool that the price of the entry ticket is very far from being able to cover.
Before the crisis, what cost the most in a municipal swimming pool was, by far, the staff. In 2019, according to data published by vie-publique.fr, the remuneration of employees in charge of reception, maintenance and surveillance represented on average just over 60% of the operating cost of a nautical center managed by a municipality. And the heating of the water in the pools and showers and the electricity used in addition, in particular for the lighting, constituted the second item of expenditure at more than 15% of the total cost.
With the energy crisis, the swimming pool more than ever a luxury public service
Again this is an average. For pools that use geothermal energy, the ratio was much lower. But in any case, these figures are no longer valid today. Because, it turns out that more than one municipal swimming pool heats its water with natural gas. That is to say with the energy whose price has increased the most this year. And in general, soaring energy prices mean that swimming pools have truly become a luxury public service.
In France, before the energy crisis, the user of a municipal swimming pool paid on average 22% of its operating cost. But today this cost has obviously skyrocketed. For the moment, we do not have figures for the whole of France. But to get an idea, just take a concrete example. A city was kind enough to be completely transparent by giving us all its figures: Salon-de-Provence (Bouches-du-Rhône). In this municipality of 46,000 inhabitants, the municipality manages two establishments.
In summer, the people of Salon enjoy an outdoor swimming pool with a heated 50-metre Olympic pool. The city complies with the rules governing sports training which impose a minimum of 25°C in the pool. When the climate is no longer suitable for swimming in the open air, swimming enthusiasts and those who are learning it at school can do their lengths in the indoor swimming pool.
In Salon-de-Provence, entry should cost 70 euros just to cover costs
For some users, admission is free and the highest price is 3 euros for Salon residents and 4.30 euros for “external” users. On average, the revenue generated by the ticket office allows the municipality to earn 3 euros per visit. But these 3 euros are very far from covering the operating expenses of these two establishments.
The municipality has calculated that in 2021, before the surge in energy prices, the cost per user was 48.60 euros. And for this year, it has counted on 70 euros per user. The final amount will depend on the evolution of the prices of its invoices. To put it another way, 70 euros is the price that users should pay so that these two swimming pools no longer cost the taxpayers of the city anything. Which obviously makes no sense. But at this price we can still speak of a luxury public service.
And if it is quite legitimate that users do not pay the cost price, it is nevertheless necessary to be aware of it when certain municipalities, to reduce their bill, decide, for example, to lower the temperature of the shower or the basins of a few degrees.