Whakatane Harbor Dredging Approved

An ongoing maintenance program consisting of both land-based and sea-based dredging methods is set to proceed for the Whakatane Harbor entrance, following approval by the District Council’s Projects and Services Committee.

A report to the committee last week discussed the maintenance options investigated by Opus International Consultants, which assessed the feasibility of the available dredging methods.

In total, nine sea-based methods were reviewed, with the two viable options identified being bed scarification/dredging (bucket dredge) and a purpose-built Trailing Suction Hopper Dredge (TSHD). The TSHD option would require a significant financial investment. Six land-based methods were reviewed, with a long reach excavator and a sand rake extension arm (which has already been used to good effect) being the favored option.

The Council drew more than 40 written submissions and 185 survey responses on harbor improvements through its recent Long Term Plan consultation process, with 73 percent of respondents supporting an improvement program. Council also held several stakeholder meetings with a harbor users group to gain feedback on harbor issues.

Whakatāne District Council Projects and Services Committee Chair, Councillor Andrew Iles, said that despite investigations since the 1970s, no structural solution had been identified which could provide a fail-safe solution to harbor entrance accessibility, without increasing the potential risk of flooding for the Whakatāne township.

That’s why Council’s focus is now on maintenance solutions and widening the eastern wall to allow easier access for land-based dredging, similar to that carried out over the past two summers,” he said. “We’ll continue to refine our maintenance program and consider the dredging options identified in the Opus report.

While a purpose-built suction dredge has been identified as an option to improve the situation on the outer bar, the likely cost of $500,000 means further investigations are necessary before any decision is made.

This would include discussions with other potential users who could share the capital and operating costs.

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