Submissions heard on draft harbour plan

Kapi-Mana News | 18 October 2011


Forget about dredging.

That was the message from key players as submissions were heard last week on the draft Porirua Harbour and Catchment Strategy and Action Plan.

It's taken three years to get to this stage but residents have had the opportunity to have their say on the plan, which may be finalised before the end of this year.  The hearings committee features members of Ngati Toa, Porirua City Council, Wellington City Council and the regional council.

The strategy's focus is on cleaning up the harbour, to the point where it is safe to swim in within the next 10 years, with the "big three" tenets being the reduction of sediment, pollution, and restoring the ecology.

Four submitters promoted dredging the harbour.  Committee chairman Rawiri Faulkner said it was "important to consider all perspectives" but there was "not a lot of evidence and science to back it up".

This was echoed by PCC's harbour strategy co-ordinator, Keith Calder, who said dredging would be only a temporary measure.

"The costs could outweigh the benefits, and it's a question of sustainability - you take stuff out and it will keep filling back in, so dredging becomes a bottomless pit of money.  What we need is value for money, and that's what this strategy is about."

Titahi Bay residents Graeme Ebbett and John Watson want dredging included in the final strategy, the latter saying in his submission that mudflats would continue to grow without dredging.

"It remains incomprehensible that dredging was not included in the otherwise fulsome plan.  Only dredging will eliminate the mudflats and thus allow for a greater flushing of the harbour by tidal rise and fall on a twice-daily basis," said Mr Watson.

Other issues raised by submitters included the future of the three lagoons (including Aotea), the impact on forestry, the role of Transmission Gully, better education, and safety for boaties.

Paremata Boating Club commodore Paul Pettit told the panel that navigation, clean water, access and safety were paramount to his club.  He said one young sailor smashed his front teeth when he hit the bottom near Browns Bay - the sandbar in that area was particularly tough to navigate for sailing boats and patrol craft.

Sylvia Jenkin, from Friends of Maara Roa, outlined how the group had restored the Cannons Creek valley in Belmont Regional Park, and said lessons could be learnt from its success.

"We are sitting here because of what's happened in the past.  It's now time to get on with it and deal with the causes [of pollution and sedimentation], not just the effects."

Ms Jenkin felt there should be more in the strategy regarding Transmission Gully, but Mr Calder said the strategy was not focused on the billion-dollar project because it was not the only infrastructure that would affect the harbour.

Mr Faulkner said a report would be made to all councils in the coming weeks.  The hearings panel was likely to reconvene in November to finalise the strategy.

- Kapi-Mana News