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Aqua fun . . Consultation is expected to begin soon on Kaiapoi’s proposed aqua play park. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

By DAVID HILL

Kaiapoi’s proposed aqua play park could be open by late October.

Water test results to ensure public safety, which delayed the resource consent process for the project due to a lack of rain, are now under way.

In a presentation to Monday evening’s Kaiapoi-Tuahiwi Community Board meeting, WHoW Charitable Trust trustees Jason Mill and Tony Joseph said water testing results following the May 31 flood event had come back better than expected.

The proposed site is a lake in Kaiapoi’s NCF Reserve, tucked in behind Courtenay Drive, in the former residential red zone.

The Waimakariri District Council hopes to begin public consultation on the project next week.

Mr Mill said the trust’s ecologist completed daily water tests in the days immediately following the flood event and was pleasantly surprised at the results.

“We have completed water tests, depth tests and riparian edge tests, and we’ve done more tests following the flood. That was considered a one in a hundred year flood event and we’re not at critical levels, so that’s a good sign.

“We were a bit worried about the impact of a flush event, but it came back after four days (of testing) at better than it was.”

Should the project go ahead, the trust anticipates the aqua park would close for a week, following a major rain event, to allow time for testing to ensure public safety.

Following advice from Environment Canterbury staff, WHoW aims to do 45 water tests, at the trust’s expense. It has completed a quarter of them.

“We don’t need to do all 45 tests, but we want to be as diligent as possible,” Mr Mill said.

As part of it’s social outcomes, the trust is looking to engage with 88 low decile schools, with the pupils assisting the ecologist with the testing.

“It’s providing education and opportunities for the kids. We teach them a wee bit about water ecology, bird habitats, inanga habitats and the environment,” Mr Mill said.

Seven North Canterbury schools, including Tuahiwi School have been invited to be part of the initiative, with the intention of providing the pupils with a free swim for their efforts. The trust is also keen to advance its conversations with Ngai Tuahuriri in a bid to support mahinga kai in the area, and already has a trustee from Tuahiwi.

Should the trust be successful in obtaining a consent, Mr Mill is optimistic the aqua play park is on track to open in late October and would operate for five months before being packed away over winter. It is based on a successful concept employed at Lake Dunstan in Central Otago last summer, and is intended as a transitional project for three years while the trust works on the proposed aqua sports park.

Mr Mill said the trust has completed a marketing study to gauge interest in the Greater Christchurch area and has begun work on its full feasibility study.