Affordability relates to the unavoidable costs of developing and operating an ocean pool including public liability insurance and costs.
On many surf coasts, ocean pools were long perceived as a cheaper alternative to other pools, because:
- the water came from the ocean rather than town water supplies
(which is why ocean pools have developed and flourished in places with limited access to readily available and affordable supplies of freshwater),
- a well-sited and not-too-heavily-used ocean pool could be self-cleansing
(provided the water quality of the surrounding coastal waters remained satisfactory), and
- ocean pools are usually neither heated or chlorinated though New Zealand’s redeveloped St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool is both heated and chlorinated).
Ocean pools also have a smaller ecological footprints than most other public pools of equivalent size and are a demonstrably sustainable use of a rocky surf coast. Some ocean pools have already been in sustained use over 150 years, a longer life than that envisaged for many other types of public pools.
Changed attitudes to wild nature and pool management practices since the 1970s have made Australian ocean pools safer places for seaweed, sharks, and other lifeforms of the ocean and the rocky shores. Some Australian ocean pools already host environmental care groups and the area around an ocean pool can be a focus for environmental care activities. Environmental educators have, however, largely failed to recognise, use and promote the opportunities that ocean pools afford for environmental learning.
The different types of costs relevant to ocean pools receive quite different levels of scrutiny. In Australia, the processes for scrutinising development of new ocean pools are now far more rigorous than those for identifying and addressing the neglect and underfunding, which remain key threatening processes for the functionality, conviviality and the cultural and natural heritage values of ocean pools. Opportunity costs are often ignored, as are the costs of sustaining ecosystem services or taking preventive rather than curative approaches to improving public health.