Foxton's Save Our River Trust is embarking on a feasibility study for a wetland that will deal with stormwater from the Kings Canal in Foxton.

The trust has already been busy cleaning up a large area along the Foxton River Loop. There is one wetland and a walkway into town, while on the other side of the river many flaxes have been planted.

Now it is the turn of the piece of land in front of the old landfill through which the Kings Canal runs through.

It is part of the Foxton East Drainage Scheme and will improve the quality of the stormwater before it's discharged into the river.

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The feasibility study will look into piping discharge from the Kings Canal into the new wetland, where the water will be cleaned up before it runs into the river loop. The issue is not just the stormwater and what it may contain. The Kings Canal runs through an old landfill and the soil alongside it shows considerable subsidence.

"The pipe will stop interaction between the stormwater and the landfill," said trust chairman Robin Hapi. Fellow trustee Alistair Cole who is also the regional coordinator for the Landcare Trust, said the wetland would clean up that water.

There are also plans to dig sediment out of the river loop to improve river flow and reduce flooding. That sediment will be used to stabilise and heighten the adjoining slopes, so water from the river does not flood as far inland as it does now.

"When the Moutua floodgates open the water can reach the park bench above the existing wetland and also runs into the Kings Canal," said Cole. Where the Kings Canal emerges there is a gate that can be closed.

The existing Kings Canal is showing considerable subsidence, and rubbish from the former landfill is starting to appear - from plastics to car parts, and metal roofing.

"You can see the bubbles in places in the water, indicating there is methane being discharged," said Cole, who believes all sorts of toxic waste could be present in the old landfill.

Work already done to the areas surrounding the Foxton River Loop now allows people to enjoy the scenery and to walk all the way into town.

The trust has also created a walkway into the opposite direction past the current transfer station. Known as the Piriharakeke Walkway the path leads all the way to the Whirikino Trestle.

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The land in that area belongs to the district council. The current transfer station sits right behind the old landfill.

"It will be pretty significant job, but it will make the town frontage safer and more beautiful," said Hapi, who chairs the Save Our River Trust. For the trust the ultimate goal is to reopen the river loop which will improve the health of the river considerably, they believe.

"We would like the locals to think more about the river. A lot of education is still needed. There is a lot of rubbish around, not to mention dog doos.

Robin Hapi, chair, and Alistair Cole, trustees of Save Our River Trust in Foxton, are working on a feasibility study for a wetland below the old landfill.
Robin Hapi, chair, and Alistair Cole, trustees of Save Our River Trust in Foxton, are working on a feasibility study for a wetland below the old landfill.

"On occasion people pull down trees too. This is all very discouraging for our volunteers who work so hard to spruce it all up."

The trustees believe the Foxton River Loop is treated as a convenient back wash, handy at times for flood control.

The feasibility study will be a paper exercise involving councils, the trust and experts. It will also include talks with landowners along the river loop.

"We have a 35-year consent for this work to enhance and undertake jobs like sediment removal," said Hapi. "This will be the first project in that cycle. It's been a long time coming."

A new wetland will be made here. The Piriharakeke Walkway runs behind the trees.
A new wetland will be made here. The Piriharakeke Walkway runs behind the trees.

The money for the feasibility study is from the Manwatu River Leaders Accord's community grants. They have up to a year and $4000 to come up with a viable plan that will find favour with both Horowhenua District and Horizons Regional councils.

If successful they say a lot more money will be needed to implement their plans. They hope to have completed the study by June 1.