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Ōpōtiki Harbour Closure Extended As Works Continue

The Ōpōtiki Harbour will now remain closed to the public until September 11th.

Bay of Plenty Harbourmaster, Jon Jon Peters extended the closure of the river to allow the works to continue.

“I appreciate this closure is taking longer than people hoped, but safety needs to come first, and unfortunately at the moment its simply not safe for boaties to pass through this area,” Peters says.

HEB Construction’s Project Manager David Wyeth, says dredging the channel between the new seawalls was a complex enterprise and there was still a lot of additional sand to excavate before the channel could open safely and permanently.

“On the dredging front there is good news and bad news. The good news is that ocean depths beyond the breakwaters have improved and now appear stable and sand movement is limited out there which is great. However, that sand has deposited between the breakwaters requiring us to dredge this out sufficiently to allow boat access," Wyeth says.

“The project had this possibility built into our timeframes, but it does mean a longer period without access to the open ocean for Ōpōtiki boat owners. We really do appreciate this is a long time without a river entrance and this is a much-anticipated piece of infrastructure. But health and safety must come first and the last thing anyone wants are boats coming to grief through the new harbour entrance before it is safe,”

According to the Ōpōtiki District Council, the harbour entrance is being dredged to a depth of four metres at mid tide, but with the relatively dry period in the weeks following cut-through and the low river flows, the river hasn’t been flushing as it normally would, and the sand was therefore moving in from further out to sea.

Wyeth says his team are mobilising a large barge with additional pumps to help speed up the process – the Pohonui barge is 50m x 14m with a dredge pump mounted on top.

“Within the next week or two, we expect to welcome Pohonui and it will be operating up to seven days a week to help us move the material as quickly as possible. We’ll also have an additional amphibious undercarriage dredge operating alongside Hinewai, which has been on the site for the past year. Essentially, we will have three dredge pumps running in the near future, moving things along as quickly as possible," Wyeth says.

“We’ll keep the community updated on dredging progress so it won’t be closed any longer than it has to be. But I’d ask again that people stay clear of the area on land and sea. With the large dredge between the seawalls and the two other barges operating, their pipes and the various structures and hazards, it is absolutely unsafe for boats at the moment. The exception is the Coastguard and if they need to get through, we can assist them and clear space,” Wyeth adds.

Ōpōtiki District Council note, the aerial image below shows the current levels within the channel and illustrates the additional material that has migrated between the breakwaters.

"On the positive side, this means that dredging does not now need to extend beyond the breakwaters, but it “creates a few headaches” in the short term for access for Ōpōtiki boaties."

Image: Supplied.

Public Interest Journalism funded through New Zealand On Air.


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