Department of Planning, Industry and Environment confirms 10 days of dredging in Swansea Channel will begin this month

DYNAMIC: A shallow Swansea Channel has led to a number of vessels requiring assistance. Swansea MP Yasmin Catley said similar problems occurred this time last year. She wants a permanent channel maintenance program.
DYNAMIC: A shallow Swansea Channel has led to a number of vessels requiring assistance. Swansea MP Yasmin Catley said similar problems occurred this time last year. She wants a permanent channel maintenance program.

IN what will be welcome relief for Lake Macquarie boaters hindered by the shallow depth of Swansea Channel, the NSW government will commence dredging by the end of this month.

But Swansea MP Yasmin Catley believes the periodic deepening of the channel is a flawed solution.

She wants the government to fund a permanent dredge, issuing a renewed plea for funding this week after four vessels ran aground in shallow waters in the space of 10 days.

Her view is shared by Jason Nunn, of Fisherman's Warehouse at Marks Point, who believes the lake is being "strangled" by inefficient management of the channel.

Ms Catley said there were vessels that could not leave the lake this week due to the channel depth, which followed Marine Rescue helping a stranded yacht near Swan Bay last Wednesday.

Marine Rescue, which towed the vessel to deeper water, surveyed the channel at half tide and found there was a depth of 1.1 metres.

Commander Mal Wardrop said the Lake Macquarie unit had responded to about 10 shoaling incidents in a fortnight.

He said large vessels had been encouraged to stay in deeper water until a high tide with some requiring a lead boat to leave the lake.

"The dredging of Swansea Channel requires a significant ongoing commitment to ensure that a safe path is assured for our boating community," Ms Catley said.

"Having a permanent dredge would not only help our boating community but also our emergency services who are having to rescue trapped vessels.

"It is unacceptable that our region is missing out on significant economic benefits due to this government's mismanagement."

A spokesperson for Crown Lands said "10 days of dredging" was set to occur later this month to remove "5000 to 10,000 cubic metres of sand".

It is the last of 100 days of dredging, worth $280,000, that started late last year and followed dredging from May to October in 2018 that removed 10,000 cubic metres of sand at a cost of $250,000.

The spokesperson said since 2011, the government had spent more than $4 million on dredging campaigns "to maintain a stable entrance to Lake Macquarie".

It will also call for tenders at the end of October for future dredging worth $250,000.

But Mr Nunn said temporary dredging over the years had been ill-conceived.

He said there was "no accountability" for what he deemed "failed management" of the channel, which had been an issue dating back to 1970s.

Mr Nunn said dredged sand dumped on Elizabeth Island would simply make its way back into the channel.

"They just want to keep band-aiding it," he said.

"There needs to be a proper management plan and a management council, a body of vested stakeholders, who can manage the channel."

Comments