Ford Road near Maketu will be closing next month as part of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s $16 million project to restore freshwater in to the Maketu Estuary.
From February 8 until May 27, Ford Road will be closed between 7am and 7pm on weekdays and Saturdays, but will be open to the public all day on Sundays.
On closed days, fishers can have access and stay all day at the road-end if they arrive before 7am and exit when the road re-opens at 7pm.
The Ford Road boat ramp will remain closed until the new facilities are built in June 2020. Boaties are reminded to use the alternative ramp at Bell Road during this time.
In a statement issued by the Western Bay of Plenty District Council, it says the re-diversion project aims to restore at least 20 percent of the Kaituna River’s freshwater flows into the estuary and to recreate 20 hectares of wetlands around the estuary margin.
“It will maximise freshwater flows into the estuary while maintaining existing levels of flood protection and boating access through Te Tumu Cut. It will also help filter nutrients and create breeding areas in the wetlands for birds and fish.
“Tangata whenua and local residents have been calling for river flows to be restored to the estuary since 1970. The health of the estuary has been declining since the river mouth was diverted in 1956.
“Loss of natural flushing from Kaituna River has resulted in the estuary becoming clogged with algae, while coastal sediment build-up has reduced pipi habitat and the ability for boats to enter and leave the estuary.
“The re-diversion project will return an average of 600,000 litres of fresh water from the Kaituna River into Te Awa Ngatoroirango/Maketu Estuary on every tidal cycle.”
Work to date has included dredging, formation of the new stopbank on the western side of Ford Road and cutting has begun on the new re-diversion channel.
Over half of the culvert sections have been placed and contouring to reconstruct salt marsh habitat at Te Pa Ika, between Papahikahawai and Ford’s Cut.
The regional council has also required 45 hectares of pastoral land adjacent to the river for the creation of a public reserve for walking, cycling and seafood gathering access.
For more information visit the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s website: www.boprc.govt.nz or call 0800 884880.