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Mount Maunganui surf reef to be removed

Mount Maunganui surf reef to be removed

For immediate release: 16 April 2014

Bay of Plenty Regional Council has decided the Mount Maunganui surf reef is to be partially removed to remove the risk to swimmers near Tay Street.

Regional Council Deputy Chief Executive Eddie Grogan said the Mount Maunganui Reef Trust obtained resource consent in August 2000 to construct the pilot offshore submerged reef about 250 m offshore from the Tay Street/Marine Parade corner.

It was to be part of on-going research into artificial reef development by the University of Waikato, as well as providing a superior surf break for surfers, however the structure was never fully completed.

The five year consent term granted lapsed in 2010 and the Regional Council, as RMA regulator, needed to consider options for its future management.

The $1.5 million artificial reef, built from 2005 to 2008 with donations from the public and community funding groups, has never functioned as intended and was criticised by surfers and the public. The reef has attracted criticism, with surfers saying it did not provide the intended surf breaks, and surf lifesaving organisations concerned it was creating dangerous rips for swimmers.
“The reef’s expected positive effects have not been realised. It’s also generated some unforeseen effects, including creating a large scour hole which affects waves and currents, increasing the frequency and intensity of rips which pose a serious risk to swimmers in the popular Tay Street area,” Mr Grogan said.

“We have commissioned a specialist report to consider the effects on the beach, swimmer safety, navigation safety, surfing values, cultural values and ecology. The review evaluated three options - status quo, removing the reef and repair and restoration, and recommended removal.”

The review recommended the reef structure be removed in a staged process. Removing the largest geotextile containers at a cost of about $60,000 would likely eliminate health and safety and environmental issues, it said.
While the Reef Trust had told the Council it would like to see the reef completed to achieve its original intent, it was not in a financial position to maintain, manage, re-consent or complete it, Mr Grogan said.

The Regional Council had to consider whether the reef could be left in its current state, or whether hazard or environmental issues meant it needed to be repaired or removed. There were significant costs involved in leaving the reef where it was, risks to swimmers at Tay Street beach and adverse environmental effects Mr Grogan said.

Repairing the reef could pose more issues, including altering coastal processes, changing currents and exacerbating risks to swimmers, Mr Grogan said.

Work is likely to start as soon as possible, following selection of a preferred contractor and weather conditions permitting.

Ends

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