Water skiiers and jetskiers will continue to be prohibited from using the stretch of Waikato River between Mangaonua Stream and the Pukete footbridge under the new Navigation Safety Bylaw passed by Environment Waikato this week.
Environment Waikato reviewed an option for an extension to the bylaw to allow water skiing and jetskiing in the urban area, but following submissions from Hamilton residents who opposed the change, the rules contained in the original bylaw which came into effect in July last year were retained.
This means the urban zone is reserved for passive water activities and no personal watercraft or water skiing is allowed.
A number of people made submissions on changes to the jet and water skiing and , most of them opposed due to noise, urban development, safety and erosion issues. Some submissions is support said the change would allow for safer take off and landing areas, provide a beach for water skiiers rather than the more dangerous taking off in the middle of the river and avoid water quality problems.
The Council intends to meet with Hamilton City Council to discuss the need for a strategic planning approach for the use of the river, taking into account future growth and community views, landing and access issues and pollution sources. The aim is to develop appropriate future changes to the District Plan for surface water uses, or to the Navigation Safety Bylaw for safety issues.
The Council heard that while some submitters were prepared to compromise on zone boundaries, there was concern that northward city development needed to be considered. Any changes to zones depended on road access and landing facilities, so a more strategic approach was needed to future use of the River to align navigation safety and city interests.
The Navigation Safety Bylaw covers the entire Waikato Region to ensure safety on all navigable waterways – sea, harbours, lakes and rivers. It allows people to use water for water skiing, swimming, boating, kayaking or other water activities safely, and some areas are zoned to avoid people interfering with others’ activities.
A total of 78 submissions were received covering five key issues.
Surfers at Whaingaroa (Raglan) Harbour will be able to use personal watercraft for towing in and out of high waves but their use is prohibited in areas reserved for swimming. The harbour master has the right to stop the use of these watercraft in surfing zones if it is considered that they are being used in an unsafe manner.
A free booklet that details the activities allowed in each area of waterway in the Region will soon be available from Environment Waikato.