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Published: 2004-04-21 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is planning to increase the navigation safety service it provides for the Waikato River between Hamilton City and Port Waikato.

In its draft Long-Term Council Community Plan, the Council says more patrols are needed along the river during the week as the use of the area is increasing. The river within the city limits and near Mercer is being used more often for rowing, and the area between Mercer and Port Waikato is being used for recreation after working hours and on weekends.

Navigation safety programme manager David Pearks said about 26 volunteer wardens look after the area from Cambridge to Port Waikato. The Council appreciated these volunteers who were willing to give up their time to help ensure safe use of the water.

However increased water use and the need for more after hours work due to potential conflict between users warranted employment of another staff member.

"The main problem is that people are using these areas after work and on weekends more than before. This means we need staff who can manage the water outside our normal working hours, especially during the high use summer period. These staff need access to a vehicle and a jet boat."

The Council aims to have river patrols weekly from November to April, and fortnightly during the rest of the year.

Copies of the Navigation Safety bylaw will be given to river users, and an information pamphlet will be developed detailing the rules for this stretch of river for users.

The improved service will cost about $70,000.

The Long-Term Council Community Plan is open for public submissions until Friday, May 14. It can be viewed on Environment Waikato’s website, www.ew.govt.nz or copies can be obtained from Environment Waikato's Freephone 0800 800 401.