Spring walk­way could be closed

South Waikato News - - Front Page - STUFF.CO.NZ

It takes thou­sands of visi­tors a month but this sum­mer the Te Wai­hou Walk­way is in danger of be­ing closed to the pub­lic.

That’s the warn­ing from the South Waikato District Coun­cil if peo­ple con­tinue to swim in the Blue Spring.

A huge in­flux of peo­ple swim­ming in the pop­u­lar Blue Spring and im­me­di­ate en­vi­ron­ment last sum­mer re­sulted in sig­nif­i­cant en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion so swim­ming was banned in Au­gust with the stairs lead­ing to the wa­ter closed off and a sign ad­vis­ing visi­tors not to en­ter the wa­ter erected.

‘‘Swim­ming is dis­cour­aged from the bridge at the Les­lie Rd end of the walk­way to the board­walk just be­yond the Blue Spring it­self,’’ South Waikato District Coun­cil com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Kerry Fabrie said.

‘‘Sadly the im­pact of peo­ple ac­tiv­ity has caused sig­nif­i­cant ero­sion to the banks and bed of the Wai­hou, the nat­u­ral veg­e­ta­tion along­side the river and the weed en­vi­ron­ment favoured by the Dwarf Galaxis (threat­ened

‘‘We cer­tainly don't want to close the beau­ti­ful Te Wai­hou Walk­way... but com­plete clo­sure is def­i­nitely a pos­si­bil­ity should dam­age con­tinue to oc­cur.’’

na­tive fish species) which is a pro­tected species has been de­nuded.

‘‘A re­cent sur­vey shows that a sec­ond pro­tected species, the Spot­less Crake, ap­pears to have van­ished from the area.’’

Fabrie in­di­cated that should peo­ple con­tinue to swim in the area, the coun­cil may have no choice but to close the walk­way un­til long term so­lu­tions can be found and to al­low the area to re­cover.

De­spite sev­eral at­tempts, South Waikato mayor Jenny Shat­tock could not be reached for com­ment.

‘‘We cer­tainly don’t want to close the beau­ti­ful Te Wai­hou Walk­way be­cause it is so in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar and en­joyed by so many, but com­plete clo­sure is def­i­nitely a pos­si­bil­ity should dam­age con­tinue to oc­cur,’’ Fabrie said.

Raukawa Set­tle­ment Trust chair Vanessa Eparaima sup­ported the action.

‘‘Swim­ming in the Blue Spring on Te Wai­hou Walk­way has al­ready caused sig­nif­i­cant dam­age to the area which if al­lowed to con­tinue would only get worse,’’ she said.

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