Plans to partially re-divert freshwater flows from the Kaituna River into Te Awa o Ngatoroirangi (Maketu Estuary) are moving ahead, with work expected to start in July.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council is holding public information sessions on Wednesday May 2.
“It’s great to finally be able to deliver on this work that the community has been asking for since 1979,” says Bay of Plenty Regional Council Kaituna catchments manager Pim de Monchy.
Locals are invited to drop-in and discuss the project with regional council staff and contractors between 3.30-5pm, or attend the public meeting for a formal presentation at 5.30pm. The information sessions will be held at Whakaue Marae, 721 Maketu Road on May 2.
Pim says since 1956, almost all the Kaituna River’s flow has been diverted out to sea at Te Tumu.
“It was done to protect the low-lying farmland from flooding and improve drainage, but the resulting loss of freshwater inflow has severely degraded wildlife, kaimoana (seafood), water quality and the mauri (life force) of Te Awa o Ngatoroirangi/Maketu Estuary.”
Construction work will be starting this July, to return twenty percent of the Kaituna River’s freshwater flows back into the estuary and recreate at least 20 hectares of new wetlands. Existing levels of flood protection and boating access at Te Tumu cut will be maintained.
The construction work includes creation of a new channel to carry fresh water from the river into a new inlet structure at Ford’s Cut.
Existing stop banks will be shifted and upgraded. Ford’s channel will be widened and the Ford Road boat ramp will be upgraded.
Pim says the project will improve kaimoana habitat and public facilities in the long term. But to achieve that some temporary Ford Road and boat ramp closures will be required from August 1.
“We’ll be asking fishermen, boat ramp users and other locals to be patient with us and help by using alternative boat ramps, river and beach access points at Bell Road, Kaituna River Road, Maketu Road or Karewa Parade, while the Ford Road-end facilities are closed,” he says.
Ford Road end (from Ford’s cut bridge to Te Tumu cut) will be closed from August 1 to December 20 and traffic restrictions will remain in place until June 2020. Ford Road boat ramp and the stopbank west of Ford Rd, will be closed to the public from August 1, 2018 until June 30, 2020.
People can subscribe to receive email updates or see further information about the project at www.boprc.govt.nz/kaitunamaketurediversion.
Pim says the regional council considered 18 different methods and options for re-diverting the Kaituna River and creating new wetlands before making a final decision based on thorough engineering, hydrology and ecology investigations, as well as iwi and community consultation.
“All of the resource consents and conditions for the project were finalised in an Environment Court decision issued in May 2016. Following two years of work on land acquisitions, detailed design and contract tender processes, a $13.5m construction contract to complete the project was awarded to J Swap Contractors Ltd on March 29 this year.”