Twelve new flow control gates installed on the lower Kaituna River were being put through their final tests in late-January, before being officially opened at a public celebration on February 12.
The gates have been installed along with a new re-diversion channel, and other construction works, so that freshwater flows can be restored from the Kaituna River into Te Awa o Ngatoroirangi/Maketu Estuary.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council project manager Pim de Monchy says the regional council funded the $16.6m Kaituna River re-diversion and Te Awa o Ngatoroirangi/Maketu Estuary enhancement project in response to calls for it from local tangata whenua and the wider community.
“Estuary health had been deteriorating ever since the Kaituna River was diverted out to sea at Te Tumu Cut in 1956. It had silted up, become choked with algae, and birds and fish had lost their breeding and feeding grounds.
“Through this project, we’re restoring up to 600,000m3 of freshwater flows into the estuary on every tidal cycle.
“That, along with the 20 hectares of wetland we’ve also re-created, will help the estuary to recover so that it will become healthier for fish and wildlife to live in, and people to enjoy,” says Pim.
Construction works began in July 2018 – and work during the last six months has focused on completing works on a new channel and salinity block that minimises the salinity of the re-diverted river flows, fitting and testing control gate automation systems, and completing Ford Road boating facility upgrades.
“We pushed really hard to get the Ford Road boat ramp and carpark sealing finished ahead of time so that people could use it during the Christmas holidays. We were really pleased to be able to open that on December 24,” says Pim.
“The contractor’s professionalism, along with amazing support and co-operation from tangata whenua, landowners and the local community have been key ingredients in helping the project to run smoothly.
“I’m really looking forward to February 12 when we can celebrate the start of a new chapter for the Kaituna River and Te Awa o Ngatoroirangi with the community and everyone that’s helped make this work possible.”
Pima sys it’s a great example of what can be achieved when everyone works together “and it won’t stop here”.
“We’ve got more work to do, and many projects are already underway, to keep improving water quality and wildlife habitat further up the Kaituna catchment too.”
The public opening event is 9am on Wednesday, February 12.
Find out more at: www.boprc.govt.nz/kaitunarediversion