- Western training wall necessary for boat safety – mayor
BAY of Plenty Regional Council staff say the western spit training wall retards the ability for sand to erode during floods, but Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne believes it is necessary to ensure boat safety.
A resource consent application to continue to allow the use of the wall is one of two projects that have been placed on hold by the Whakatane District Council, while it tries to form better relationships with tangata whenua.
The second is a project to build a 100-metre wharf along the edge of the Whakatane River, adjacent to Quay Street.
Mr Bonne said the wall was necessary to allow boats a safe entrance to and exit from the Whakatane port because it provided a safe guide for skippers of boats to use.
But regional council senior environmental manager Peter Blackwood said the presence of the wall retarded the ability of the Opihi spit to erode during floods.
“Erosion of the spit is a fuse mechanism that enables water to travel at a greater flow through the Whakatane River mouth during major floods. Pre-emptive methods are in place where by the Whakatane District Council keeps the spit at lower levels – to improve the eroding of the spit.”
He said consent conditions required the collapse of the wall in floods of 20-year return period or greater, but that didn’t happen during the floods in April.
“The wall did not fail in that flood and as a result flood levels in the lower reaches of the Whakatane River remained higher than desirable.
All-in-all the operation of the spit fuse is an essential part of the flood protection of Whakatane and for that reason the [wall] requires careful consideration of the impacts it has on operation of the fuse.”
As part of the resource consent application process, the district council was required to meet with the Opihi Whanaungakore Urupa trust, who are responsible for the land adjacent to the wall.
District council public affairs manager Ross Boreham said the trustees were unable to attend the meeting in July but an agreement was reached with the regional council and Te Runanga o Ngati Awa that the wall needed to be redesigned.
“In light of matters raised during the meeting, the regional council requested that the application be placed on hold while the district council considers these issues and determines an appropriate response. Consideration is currently underway and discussions between the councils are continuing.”
Mr Boreham said the council had also placed the resource consent application for the construction of the proposed 100-metre long wharf on hold after receiving formal objection from the Te Runanga o Ngati Awa.
“In recognition that the proposed wharf location is within the Ngati Awa Antiquities Protocol Area, discussion with the runanga have been ongoing to consider possible mitigation measures and options for further berthage.
“These options have extended to contemplation of various alternative designs for the replacement of the main commercial wharf, to provide an increased quota of berths alongside the new structure.”
The Beacon did not receive a response to an inquiry made with the runanga about the two projects.
The western spit wall
Experts are concerned the western spit wall
Retards the ability of the Opihi spit to erode during floods.
Did not collapse, as it is designed to do, during the April 2017 flood.
Needs to be redesigned to function properly.