Surfbreak Protection Society
Surfbreak Protection Society
News Archive
Whangamata Bar Update
28 Jun 10
Monitoring raises concerns over Bar and Tidal Jet performance. Last week Whangamata Camping Association and Surfbreak Protection Society members met in Whangamata, mainly to study all the Bar surveys that have been conducted as part of a monitoring programme to help determine whether the Marina channel dredging has changed the profile of the bar and degraded the quality of this iconic wave.

The group spent some time pouring over the results and correlated them with surf data collected by a local surfer. This was also compared with anecdotal evidence received from what many locals had observed on the Bar.

It was decided that Surfbreak Protection Society should propose a motion at the Whangamata Harbour Committee meeting (held 14 June 2010) that Waikato Regional Council (Environment Waikato) coastal planners come to the next WHC meeting and explain the survey methodology and findings to that committee. The motion was passed unanimously. The Regional Councillor Simon Friar said he would organise for them to come over. He advised that this should be with in the next 3 months.

Surfbreak Protection Society and the Whangamata surfing community have asked for the maps to be standardized as a number of different scales and use of slightly different colour tones has meant that the group was not able to speak with authority on wave quality – ie; the reason/s it has changed?

The group felt it was important to get the community involved in this project so we went through the Harbour Committee. The Marina Society had one piece of the data published in the local paper. As a result the radio took it as being the whole truth and broadcast it as well. There was a lot of debate and feedback from listeners suggesting that they were broadcasting false information. A programme on the issue was due to be broadcast on Saturday morning radio.
Local Surfbreak Protection Society members and other concerned locals have gone over the monitoring maps again and are coming to terms with how to read them. It is clear that the Bar has moved further to the east and south by approximately 5 metres each way. We believe at this stage that it is caused by the tidal jet* being blocked or choked.
This choking has occurred through the recent drought. Whangamata has had 3 heavy rain events in the last month and the last map shows possible clearing of the tidal jet. However, it is a higher sand bank and thus the sediment is being pushed to the take-off point and entrance channel thus impacting both negatively. The issue of the tidal jet is major for the Harbour Committee on this issue – the Tidal jet is a channel that crosses the Bar on a diagonal across a NW – SE direction so the out going tide drops sediment on the ocean side of the Bar at what we would call the 2nd & 3rd sections of the wave, that are currently missing.
The clearing of the mangroves now takes on a greater significance as they are going to release up to 37 hectres of mud based (not sand) sediment – out to sea? or on to the bar. The result of this will be a further choking of the tidal jet..
While the monitoring surveys continue Surfbreak Protection Society are consulting their experts for an appraisal of their ‘surfing based’ assessment of the situation.
* Tidal jet refers to process and speed by which the tide carries sediment to and from an estuary or harbour via a channel to the ocean.

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