Damage angers

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Damage to a pontoon raft at a popular Waitaki lakes swimming area has angered local residents, who suspect it was due to vandals.
The pontoon is in a part of Loch Laird, near the Benmore dam, which was cordoned off with buoys by Environment Canterbury several years ago to ensure the safety of swimmers in the area.
People swim out to the pontoon to relax or jump off it. The loch is also used for water sports such as water-skiing.
Otematata resident Graham Sullivan, of the Otematata Residents Association, said the pontoon was damaged within the last four weeks. He believed it was the work of vandals, and wanted those responsible to come forward.
The pontoon was tipped over and a seat broken off, while an attempt was made to drag it to shore.
However, the full extent of the damage to the 4m by 4m structure would not be known until it was hauled out of the water and inspected.
“I’m very, very disappointed and I know the Otematata Residents Association are really disappointed. We’ve gone to a lot of trouble to look after it.
“It’s not good enough.”He said the pontoon had been at Loch Laird for about 12 years, and was paid for by a $13,000 grant from Meridian Energy.
The residents association was tasked with maintaining the pontoon, and had just spent a significant amount of money on maintenance.
“We’ve just spent money at Christmas time _ $700 _ to fix it. Then it was tipped over,” Mr Sullivan said.
“It was put in for the people. It’s a great asset for the area. “Most people that use it are from outside the area, but a lot of locals use it too.”It is also frequently used by schools in the summer months.
The pontoon is now roped to the shore, after the chain that connected it to a large tyre at the bottom of the lake was broken.
Mr Sullivan expected the repair bill to come in at $1500, while the structure would have to be pulled out with a crane, which he said was a big job.
He has reported the damage to police and asked anyone with any information to contact them or the association.

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