Hawke's Bay river users are pleading with the Hawke's Bay Regional Council for immediate action after a further delay in the dredging of the Clive River.
The river was due to be dredged in February, depending on a resource consent, in an attempt to allow for further recreational usage.
The 33km river is supposed to be dredged approximately every 10 years, but Hawke's Bay Regional Council acting manager regional projects David Keracher said a request for further information has pushed the decision back until March 31.
Dredging, which takes about three months and removes sediment in the river, was first carried out in 1997 and was last done in 2009.
The owners of Hawke's Bay's most iconic waka say it may never return to the river after the dredging was pushed back further.
Jim and Marie Edwards, who run the educational waka Ngā Tukemata o Kahungunu, said the extended timeframe and the impact of Covid has begun to take its toll after 30 years of business.
"We can't use the river, you can't swim, it affects fish life – it needs to be done," Marie Edwards said.
"And we can only work in the summer, so delaying too much longer would take us away from that time period.
"The combination of factors means we are in the process of contemplating whether we want to continue and go on with what we do or not."
Hawke's Bay Rowing Club president Chris Morgan shared the concerns, stating the river has been in "dire need of attention" for a considerable time.
"It's a key facility for a number of sports and other users and whatever programme there has been for maintaining has not been adequate," she said.
"While we acknowledge there is a process that has to be gone through, our justifiable expectation has been that this should have dealt with much sooner and more expeditiously."
Hawke's Bay Regional Council group manager asset management Chris Dolley said following a decision to pursue land-based disposal of the sediment, HBRC had intended to undertake dredging activities in 2020/21 with land discharge methodology.
However, when sufficient land in the right location couldn't be obtained, council reverted back to the original plan of ocean-based disposal.
"We are currently in the consenting process for this activity," Dolley said.
"We listened to tangata whenua and the community who preferred land-based disposal; however this was not achievable within the timeframe."
Until 1969, the lower Clive River was part of the Ngaruroro River, before it was diverted down a new channel, which helped stop frequent flooding in the area.
This resulted in a drastic change of flow pattern in the lower Clive River, which subsequently led to a build-up of silt over the riverbed.
The dredging will cover a total of 1200 metres, while around 50,000 cubic metres of sediment will be dredged.
Jim Edwards said waka need at least one metre of water of free water underneath the vessel to operate, which they simply do not have.
He said the situation is "beyond a joke", having got worse over the last five years.
Edwards said the people who work on the river, live on the river, and rely on the river should have the control over its future.
"It's a slap in the face," he said.