$180,000 for weed harvester

The new vessel is at ACL awaiting a permit from Maritime NZ.
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Lake Hood’s new weed harvester has cost about $180,000, including importing it from Canada.

Ratepayers will cover the cost and operation of the new piece of equipment.

Ashburton Contracting Limited has bought and imported the Aquamarine H5-200 harvester, after the district council last year agreed to enter into a five-year contract with the company to purchase and operate it at Lake Hood.

The vessel operation is part of a larger contract ACL will have with the district council for the job of managing the lake, to begin July 1.

The budget will be funded by 50 per cent targeted rate, which is an Ashburton urban amenity rate paid by Ashburton and Lake Hood residents, and 50 per cent general rate.

District council group manager infrastructure and open spaces Neil McCann could not provide an approximate cost of operating the harvester each year.

‘‘We are still working through all the details,’’ he said.

ACL chief executive Gary Casey confirmed the company and the district council were still working through the detail of the contract. How much the district council paid would vary each year, as it would depend on how much the harvester could do at any one time, and how much weed there was.

‘‘This is totally new to everyone, but obviously a critical piece of equipment,’’ Casey said.

‘‘We won’t really know until we know how long it takes, we might get through it in a couple of months, it might take three months,’’ he said.

He said the company was expecting a permit required for operation from Maritime NZ to arrive soon, well in time for the weed harvester to begin operation in spring.

ACL would be training staff to drive the machine. The vessel would require a single operator at any one time, with a second land-based person to assist. The weed will be taken away for composting.

The weed harvester would be parked up in a secure space at the lake during the mowing season, which could run through to May.