Foxton 'would thrive after river rescue'

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 24/02/2014
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The campaign to reopen the Foxton River Loop is coming to Palmerston North tomorrow.

Members of Save Our River Trust (Sort), which advocates for reopening the waterway, will present its case to a Horizons Regional Council meeting tomorrow.

The group has a plan to dig a channel upstream of where the loop has filled with silt, to bring water flow back into that section of the river.

It calls the move necessary for the Foxton economy to thrive and for the health of the loop to be restored.

Sort spokesman Robin Hapi said the people of Foxton were being denied the right to a healthy river and environment.

The consequences of botched 1943 flood protection work left one entrance to the loop clogged with silt.

"The lifeblood of Foxton was taken away without the consent of the Foxton community with the construction of the Whirokino cut," he said.

"Foxton, which once owed its prosperity to the river, is a town under threat and in desperate need of a solution through strong leadership to enable us to exploit the opportunities at our doorstep."

The presentation tomorrow follows the delivery of a petition containing 1700 signatures to Horizons councillor Colleen Sheldon last year.

The petition called for the river loop to be reopened.

A Horizons report released in March 2012 said the Foxton loop would cost too much to reopen.

Several scenarios have been modelled by the regional council's river engineers and findings show that no matter what size channel is cut between the upstream end of the loop and the river, there will always be issues of siltation.

Last year's Horizons report said the cost of repair and maintenance work could be tens of millions of dollars.

The loop has been a passage to nowhere since 1943, when the Ministry of Works diverted the Manawatu River when trying to create a flood spillway known as the Whirokino Cut.

The work was meant to control floods in the Manawatu River and to stop Foxton from flooding, but the cut suddenly became the dominant route of the river, with the old path practically cut off and the flow in the loop generated by tides from the sea.

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- Manawatu Standard

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