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Boaties urged to look out for railway irons – Environment Southland

Environment Southland is urging boaties to be on the lookout for hazards when enjoying time on Southland rivers this summer.

The displacement of railway irons that were used in erosion control methods several decades ago have created a safety hazard in the Makarewa, Ōreti, Mataura and Waikaia rivers, which Environment Southland has moved to address.

Railway irons have been discovered both protruding from river waters and submerged under the water surface and they pose a serious safety risk for any river users.

Environment Southland’s catchment operations team have removed railway irons in several locations, but some railway irons remain embedded in Southland rivers, posing a serious safety risk and its maritime team has been out marking sites where railway irons have been discovered with buoys and flags, with warning signs erected nearby.

Locations where railway irons have been discovered include:

– In the Makarewa River, railway irons have been discovered in a section of the river adjacent to North Makarewa Grove Bush Road and Orion Road west.

– In the Oreti River, railway irons have been discovered at several locations in a section of the river south of State Highway 99 Riverton-Wallacetown Highway and north of West Plains Road.

– In the Mataura River, railway irons have been discovered between Cattle Flat and Riversdale-Waikaia Road.

– In the Waikaia River, railway irons have been discovered in a section of the river adjacent to Waipuru Road and north of Waipounamu Bridge Road.

Sites where railway irons have been discovered in rivers are being uploaded to Environment Southland’s Beacon mapping tool at www.maps.es.govt.nz and anyone heading out onto one of Southland’s rivers this summer should the check this site to see whether they will be travelling into a potentially hazardous area.

Deputy Harbourmaster Zak Smith said the council is urging river users to keep an eye out for river hazards, especially in areas where railway irons have been discovered. “Anyone boating near the sites where railway irons have been discovered is advised to travel with extreme caution.”

“The changing nature of our rivers, in the decades since these railway irons were originally placed there for erosion control, has resulted in the railway irons now being in the main river channel making them a major safety hazard to vessels and river users.

“Environment Southland staff are looking at other sites of possible interest and we encourage anyone who sees railway irons in our rivers to contact us promptly so that these hazards can be marked and removed as quickly as possible.

“It is possible that there are more that are yet to be discovered on other parts of Southland’s rivers, particularly because some have been found submerged under each river’s waterline.”

River users have played a crucial role in identifying the sites where railway irons have been discovered and removed and we are thankful to any members of the public who have brought these to our attention.

Sightings of railway irons can be reported to Environment Southland by emailing service@es.govt.nz or calling 0800 768 845.

 

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