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Published: 2002-10-02 00:00:00

Boaties, surfers, jetskiers and other water users now have a new bylaw controlling safety on the water in the Waikato.

Environment Waikato has passed a reviewed Navigation Safety Bylaw, which 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.

The Council’s Navigation Safety Bylaw 2001 became operative in July last year, and was reviewed to address a number of concerns raised by the community as well as making it consistent with the Maritime Safety Authority’s Maritime Rules.

A total of 78 submissions were received, mostly on five key issues. Hamilton City submissions were mainly opposed to water ski and jetski zones due to noise, urban development, safety and erosion issues. Some submitters supported waterskiing in the city area to provide safer take off areas.

The Council decided to retain the current rules and meet with Hamilton City Council to develop a strategic planning approach, taking into account growth and community views.

Submitters were also concerned about the water ski and jetski zone at Marakopa due to ecological concerns about pipi beds and erosion. The Council decided to remove the zone for personal water craft and replace it with a restricted activities zone prohibiting water skiing. Jetskis are only able to use it as a through way.

The review proposed to restrict the use of personal water craft in areas predominately used for surfing at Whaingaroa (Raglan) Harbour. Following submissions the new bylaw now allows the reserved area to be used for towing surfers by water craft. The harbour master has the right to stop the use of watercraft in these areas if they are being used in an unsafe manner.

Chairman Neil Clarke said policing of the bylaw would be very important in the future.

Several other small changes have been made as a result of other submissions, all of which supported the bylaw. The new bylaw does not apply to Lake Taupo and Taharoa Harbour.

A free booklet detailing the activities allowed in each area of waterway in the Region will soon be available from Environment Waikato.