It came with promises of world-class waves, but the final piece of Tay Street’s artificial reef has been removed with little more than a ripple, ending over a decade of debate.
During the weekend Underwater Solutions Limited finished its $87,000 project to pull part of the man-made reef to the surface in front of Tay Street beach.
The decision to partially remove the reef was made by Bay of Plenty Regional Council earlier this year after its resource consent expired.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council pollution prevention acting team leader John Morris says Underwater Solutions Ltd, one of five tenders, started removing part of the reef on September 25.
Since then all sandbags above the seabed - some up to 70 metres long - have since been removed, with the final one reaching the surface this weekend.
John says the work has been staggered, due to weather dependence, but is on time and within budget.
The project spans more than 13 years after the Mount Maunganui Reef Trust obtained resource consent in August 2000 to construct the offshore submerged reef about 250 metres offshore from the Tay Street/Marine Parade corner.
But the $1.5 million reef, built by the Mount Maunganui Reef Trust from 2005 to 2008 through donations from the public and community funding groups, never functioned as intended.
Designed by Raglan-based company ASR, the sandbag structure concept has also been sold around the world, including Britain, where there are also problems.
Though Friends of the Reef doesn’t exist anymore, it was instrumental in promoting the artificial reef’s benefits, helping secure the $1.5 million fundraising needed – including TECT’s $250,000, $200,000 from Pub Charity and Bay Trust’s $80,000.
The man-made reef was supposed to create world-class waves that would attract surfers from around the world, but ended up being too dangerous and creating rips.
When its removal was announced in April, local surf lifesaving clubs supported the move labelling it a “white elephant” that was causing more headaches than success stories.
They felt the structure exacerbates rips and holes in the area forcing lifeguards from both the Mount Lifeguard Service and Omanu Surf Lifesaving Club to keep a closer eye on the potentially dangerous area.