Bluecliffs erosion threat eased - but for how long?

Work opening the Waiau River bar has now been completed. Photo: Supplied
Work opening the Waiau River bar has now been completed. Photo: Supplied
Contractors have completed work to ease the pressure on an erosion-threatened Southland community but a state of emergency remains in place.

Civil Defence controller Simon Mapp said work to cut into the gravel bar and open the mouth of the Waiau River was completed last night.

The work, which involved moving 30,000 cubic metres of material, aims to realign the river opening to the sea in the hopes it will delay further erosion in front of the Bluecliffs coastal community.

It was "unknown how successful this opening will be or for how long it may last," Mr Mapp said.

Eighteen properties are affected, although only six are permanent residences.

There was also an old community tip that may also contain possible explosives that was exposed to the erosion.

“We are currently awaiting the weekend's increased river flow and incoming weather to determine the effectiveness of the bar opening.

"This work has always been a struggle against Mother Nature, and the team has done a commendable job despite difficult circumstances,” he said.

Meridian Energy had been managing the river flow release at the Manapouri Lake Control structure but over the next two days there would be a gradual increase in the release of water from the control gates.

Forecast rain would also contribute to the flow in the Waiau River.

“The area around the new opening in the bar east of Bluecliffs is extremely dangerous, so please do not go onto or near this area.

"Some access points around the area are still restricted for safety reasons. Please continue to avoid any unnecessary travel to the area while this state of emergency is in place,” Mr Mapp said.

The bar opening would hopefully reduce the erosion in front of the properties and the tip, which will enable further discussions with the community about the future of the area.

Planning for the removal of material at the tip site was progressing progress well, and work is likely to start on-site in the next few weeks.

The State of Emergency has been in place since February 8.