An upgraded new boat ramp at Ford Road, near Maketu, will open tomorrow, ahead of schedule and in time for people to enjoy it over the Christmas break.
“Thanks to the co-operation of the community and the great work by J. Swap Contractors Ltd, the $16.6m Kaituna River re-diversion project is running ahead of its scheduled June 2020 completion date,” said Bay of Plenty Regional Council Coastal Catchments Manager Pim de Monchy.
“We still have some more work to do before we can celebrate the opening of the new diversion control gates on 12 February next year. But we made it a priority to get the final seal on the boat ramp carpark completed last week, so that we could open it for the holidays,” he said.
The old boat ramp was closed and removed by Bay of Plenty Regional Council contractors in August last year to enable construction works for the Kaituna River re-diversion project. The project aims to restore mauri (life force) and estuary health by returning an average of nearly 600,000 cubic metres of freshwater flows from the Kaituna River into Te Awa o Ngātoroirangi Maketu Estuary on each tidal cycle. It will also provide 20 hectares of new saltmarsh wetlands for birds and fish to breed and feed in.
The Ford Road boat ramp provides boating access to the Kaituna River and the river-mouth at Te Tumu Cut. A new public jetty and sealed carpark have also been provided and they’ll be maintained along with the boat ramp by Western Bay of Plenty District Council. Mr de Monchy said that it’s an improvement on the old facility but there are some route changes and new hazards for people to get used to.
“Boaties now need to travel upstream for one kilometre to access the main river channel before heading out to sea via Te Tumu Cut. That new channel and the salinity block downstream are making sure that we get the full benefits of fresh water rather than salt water flowing into the upper estuary.
“There’s also a strong downstream current to watch for, especially when the new diversion control gates under Ford Road are open on the rising tide. Warning lights will flash and/ or sirens will sound just before the gates open and close, but people should avoid jumping off the bridge or swimming near the boat ramp or control gates at any time. It’s always been a risky place to swim due to underwater debris and drain outflows nearby, and those risks remain,” Mr de Monchy said.
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