DROPPING OFF: A Site Care truck deposits a load of silt from Sullivan Lake at Awatapu Lagoon Reserve. D8424-11

FEAR that sediment used for landscaping at Awatapu Lagoon Reserve comes from a contaminated site are unfounded.

Residents on Hinemoa Street have expressed concern over the origins of the sediment being delivered to the site.

A man called the Beacon saying he saw workers wearing hazardous material gear and heavy-duty rubber gloves while working with the mud.

The man, who asked not to be identified, said that made him suspicious of where the sediment originated.

“I have a sneaking suspicion it’s coming from the treated waste coming out of the (Kopeopeo) canal,” he said, “because the truck going in there has a sign saying, ‘hazardous materials’ on the side.”

He said his concern was that if contaminated, the soil could leech into the Whakatane River.

However, Whakatane District Council places and open spaces manager Mike Houghton said the sediment was not from the canal but from two separate dredging projects at Sullivan Lake.

These projects would improve water quality at the lake as well as provide fertile soil for landscaping activities.

“Deepening the lake will mean it doesn’t warm up as much during the summer months, which should have positive effects in terms of dissolved oxygen and the potential for algal blooms, improving the environmental conditions for bird and aquatic life,” he said.

“We’ve been working closely with the Sullivan Lake Care Group, which has been strongly advocating for water quality improvement in recent years.

“The group’s efforts in beautifying and maintaining the lake reserve are very much appreciated and it’s great to get the dredging programme under way, after a number of delays due to resource consent and seasonal factors.”

Contractor ECL Group is using a unit mounted on a floating barge to pump silt dredged from the lake bottom.

After a dewatering process on the lake shore, the sediment is removed to the Awatapu Lagoon Reserve and clean water returned to the lake.

mark.rieder@thebeacon.co.nz