Water cart keeps residents cool

Kicking up dust:  The Waikakaho Valley near Tuamarina is shrouded in dust after a truck passes.
Kicking up dust: The Waikakaho Valley near Tuamarina is shrouded in dust after a truck passes.

Dust kicked up from unsealed roads could be damaging the health of residents, the Marlborough District Council has been told.

During a discussion about the dust from gravel and logging trucks on the unsealed Waikakaho Valley Rd, the council was told the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board was looking at the size of dust particles and what they were made of to ensure that residents' health was not at risk.

Councillor Peter Jerram said the council knew there was a problem in the Waikakaho Valley.

"It is impossible to farm livestock up there at the moment," he said.

The Marlborough District Council is continuing to use a water truck twice a day to keep dust down on the road after residents called Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman to an emergency meeting last year to protest the dust.

As mature forests at the top of the valley are harvested, heavy traffic on the road has increased.

Council assets and services manager Mark Wheeler said the council accepted there were some urgent dust issues in Marlborough, not the least of which was in the Waikakaho Valley.

Marlborough Roads had worked to minimise dust on the Waikakaho road and a water cart would be provided to assist with dust management.

"It is acknowledged the Waikakaho dust issue is the most significant at present."

Councillor Graeme Barsanti said that was not the only valley that would be affected, as Mt Riley forests were due for harvest and he expected complaints from residents there to come "thick and fast".

Waikakaho Valley Rd resident Kelly Hewson said the water cart was working really well.

"There has been a vast improvement, for sure."

Residents knew the dust was a health issue, he said. "It got to be a very bad situation and something had to be done, so we did."

The council has about 660 kilometres of unsealed roads. A report to the committee said sealing roads was expensive to do and maintain, with no central government roading subsidy.

The Marlborough Express