Waihao Box repairs delayed

FIXING THE BOX: Major repair work on the Waihao Box has been delayed by weather.
FIXING THE BOX: Major repair work on the Waihao Box has been delayed by weather.

Poor weather, heavy seas and floods have delayed repair work on the Waihao Box and to the reopening of the neighbouring Waihao Box Reserve.

ECan closed the reserve on February 17, estimating it would take about two months for the work to be completed.

Area engineer (Southern) Bruce Scarlett said a combination of flooding in the Waihao River and Wainono Lagoon catchments, heavy swells and bad weather, had led to delays.

"The fourth compounding factor was that sometimes we'd have good weather and sea conditions but the tides would be wrong," Scarlett said.

The Waihao Box, a unique system that allows permanent access for water from the Waihao River and Wainono Lagoon to the ocean, has been in operation for more than 100 years. The work under way is one of the the most extensive reconstructions on the Box and will improve its effectiveness, which had decreased in recent years because of damage from heavy seas, Scarlett said.

"It's a hazardous place both for the contractors on site and for the general public so the decision was made to close the reserve while the work was being carried out.

"There can be big ocean swells here and the beach gravels are continually shifting so it's a dangerous place already and one that has already claimed one life some years ago. Add to that heavy machinery on site and it became essential to close the neighbouring reserve, which gives access to the Box, for everyone's safety."

Scarlett said the reserve would be closed for at least a further six weeks . The work , which involves replacing rotting timbers and piles and repositioning the box in response to changes in the beach profile, was going well, he said.

The reconstruction is estimated to cost $400,000, the bulk of which is being funded by about 30 ratepayers in the Wainono Drainage Group and the rest from ECan and Meridian Energy.

The Timaru Herald