Councils investing in Te Awanui Tauranga Harbour health
Friday, 3 July 2015 10:00 a.m.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council will invest $6.5 million on work to care for land, water, wildlife and boating safety in the Te Awanui Tauranga Harbour and its catchment this year.
At a Regional Direction and Delivery Committee meeting yesterday, Councillors approved an operational plan that outlines what work Regional Council will lead in and around Te Awanui Tauranga Harbour over the next 12 months.
Regional Councillor and Regional Direction and Delivery Committee Chair Paula Thompson said that the harbour is generally in good shape by national environmental standards.
“We’re committed to keeping it that way and making it even better. What happens on land affects the harbour so our work is planned in an integrated way across the catchment; from the top of the Kaimai Mamaku range to the ocean.”
“This year’s plan builds on progress we’ve made in recent years to address community concerns about pollution, sedimentation and sea lettuce build up in the harbour. We’re working with iwi and hapu to prepare for co-governance and incorporate Mātauranga māori (traditional knowledge) into new research. We’ll continue to support community efforts to restore natural areas and hold the line on mangrove expansion,” she said.
Councillor Thompson said that the Tauranga City and Western Bay of Plenty District Councils are investing at similar levels and also delivering projects that will help achieve the shared goal of a healthy, thriving harbour.
“We’re collaborating more strongly than ever before with the other councils and they’ve contributed to make it a joint plan this year,” she said.
Regional Council Environmental Delivery General Manager Warwick Murray said that Regional Council is making good headway in reducing farm sediment and nutrient run-off in the catchment by assisting landowners to fence and plant waterways and retire steep land.
“We’ll continue that by assisting landowners to protect at least another 50 kilometres of waterway margins this year,” he said.
Left unchecked, sediment from land erosion can smother shellfish and promote mangrove growth. Nutrient run-off often contains bacteria and supports algae growth, making water less suitable for swimming, drinking and wildlife.
“We’ve added more sediment science work to our ongoing checks of environmental health indicators like water clarity and cleanliness, shellfish and sediment contaminant levels. That information will help identify any hotspots where extra effort is needed to identify and tackle pollution sources,” Mr Murray said.
Through its Coastal Science Chair partnership with University of Waikato, Regional Council is also investing in new research on nutrient and sea lettuce dynamics in the harbour.
“Locals have told us they don’t like large sea lettuce blooms that make swimming and boating less enjoyable. We know that seasonal weather patterns are the main cause. The largest sea lettuce blooms happen in El Nino summers. Further research will help identify what we may be able to do to reduce sea lettuce build up in the harbour,” Mr Murray said.
Other work being delivered through the Tauranga Harbour plan includes:
- Industrial pollution audits of areas draining into Waimapu estuary, and ongoing monitoring of resource consents in the catchment
- Maintaining a 24/7 pollution and oil spill response capability. People can report oil spills or other pollution by calling 0800 884 883.
- Providing all-tide access to Matakana Island through dredging of the Opureora Channel (subject to resource consent approval)
- A review of the Navigation Safety Bylaw that outlines rules for boating safety
- Underwater surveillance and advocacy to prevent the spread of marine pests
- Collection of sea-lettuce build ups from busy beaches, in partnership with Tauranga City Council
- Projects led by the Western Bay of Plenty District and Tauranga City Councils to provide for recreation, maintain safe town water supply, and minimise the effects of storm water, wastewater, rubbish dumping, coastal erosion, industrial activities and land use on local communities and their environment.
Further information about Regional Council’s work to care for Tauranga Harbour and its catchment is available at www.boprc.govt.nz/taurangaharbour