A Waikato Regional Council committee says new legislation needs to be brought in to enable swimming to be banned in the Aratiatia rapids in response to calls that it will prevent further deaths.
Rachael de Jong, 21, was swept to her death on Waitangi Day in 2017 in the Waikato River when the floodgates of the Aratiatia Dam were opened.
There are fears more people will die unless more is done to stop people still swimming there despite a raft of deterrents being put in place.
Last week power company Mercury Energy which operates the dam, Taupō District Council and the Department of Conservation told the council committee reviewing the Navigation Safety Bylaw that prohibiting swimming at the rapids would help to prevent the loss of more lives and should be included in it.
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It comes after the coroner investigating de Jong's death recommended a swimming ban to explicitly deter people from entering the water.
Hearings committee chair Stu Kneebone said councillors agreed strongly that more needed to be done, but after seeking legal advice, decided that the Navigation Safety Bylaw was not the right tool.
The committee heard that swimming can be banned where it impedes the safe navigation of vessels, but because boats can't enter the rapids the bylaw can't be used. It would also make it impossible for harbour masters to enforce the rule.
Instead the three-person committee agreed to seek the backing of regional councillors later this month to join with other agencies to lobby for legislative change to prohibit public swimming in the rapids.
Councillors will also vote on a committee recommendation asking the Department of Conservation to investigate its ability to limit public access via the Conservation Act and for all concerned parties to consider their liabilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
"We agree that swimming in the rapids is unsafe. There are other options that should be explored, such as the Conservation and Health and Safety at Work Acts. But to get legislative change to ban swimming we need to join together to lobby for it," Kneebone said.
"At the end of the day there is nothing you can do to stop a determined person."