The information was released by the regional council’s land & water quality manager, Eddie Grogan, at the Rodney District Council’s strategy & policy committee meeting.
Mr Grogan said historical research showed sediment had been entering the harbourrapidly for 150 years, since the original forest cover was removed.
“If this rate continues, in a few years the Mahurangi will lose its water clarity, shellfish will die, oyster farming will be less viable, fishing & boating will be affected and it will be harder to find the clear blue water we enjoy swimming in now. Mangrove areas are likely to expand and the harbour will become more shallow & muddy,” Mr Grogan said.
“The good news is that the scientists also predict that the trend can be halted and even reversed, if â€“ and it’s a big if â€“ sediment can be stopped from running off the land at the current rate.”
Rodney District Council’s manager of environmental policy & planning, Peter Vari, said the district council was committed to addressing the issue in partnership with the regional council & the Mahurangi communities.
“We are appointing a natural & coastal environment advisor who will become our key contact person and we will be distributing information on the issue to assist people’s understanding of the issues,” he said.
The regional council will also appoint a dedicated officer for Mahurangi soon, and the 2 councils will establish a joint project team to co-ordinate various activities with the community.
The action plan they intend developing will address not only environmental goals, but also social, cultural & economic goals for the Mahurangi community.
In its draft regional community plan, the regional council intends putting up about $600,000 to start the project in July.