Recreating the swamp at Norton Park
‘‘Giving nature a nudge’’ John McCartin
Palmerston North’s Norton Park is being transformed into the the sort of wetland swamp seen in the city’s early days.
The demonstration is being led by city council stormwater asset engineer John McCartin, who has a particular interest in ‘‘giving nature a nudge’’ rather than just piping rainwater and run-off away to streams and rivers as quickly as possible.
Stage one of the project, at the reserve at the top end of Featherston St opposite the new Kauri Health Centre and historic Hoffman Kiln, started over summer.
It included earthworks to shape the drain into ponds, laying a ‘‘clay blanket’’ as the wetland’s base, and placement of rocks.
The work continued into winter with the planting of some 10,000 reeds and plants.
The wetland was built around ‘‘an intermittent stream’’.
It used to be fed from the Milson area, but most of the water was diverted to the Napier Rd drain as houses were built in the area during the 1950s.
McCartin said the developing wetland was fenced off for safety while the plants became established.
Once they were growing well, the plants would help extract pollutants and improve water quality.
The wetland would be integrated into the rest of the park, including construction of a high flow bypass to divert some run off if water flows were more than the wetland could handle.
‘‘Down the track it will look like it has been there forever. It will look natural, and be an attractive amenity.’’
McCartin said there would be signage around the wetland to explain the concept.