Recent rains scour ‘Natural Channel’ of Myall

The rains have done nothing to stop the formation of the massive sand island in the middle of the Myall Estuary, however.

THE MYALL estuary has received some limited relief from Mother Nature, with recent rains apparently scouring out the sand-clogged ‘Natural Channel’, east of Corrie Island.

The Natural Channel, which was the original main entrance between the river and Port Stephens Bay, has been slowly, but surely, filling up with sand since its last dredging four years ago, and calls to re-dredge, led by the Myall River Action Group (MRAG), have gone unheeded.

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The recent heavy downpours across the Myall region have naturally led to a significant volume of water entering the system from upriver, increasing flows and their forces downstream, which has, according to both MidCoast Council and MRAG observers, pushed out some of the built-up sand in the Natural Channel.

“No doubt about Mother Nature,” MRAG’s Gordon Grainger told NOTA.

“The result of our recent rains has allowed her to continue in reaching what we had, and need now: the volume of water coming from the Lakes and hills has scoured the sand build-up at the eastern entrance, and the Natural Entrance is now clearly definable.

“The tannin content has not allowed us to determine depth and reports from Maritime indicate it is still not navigable by the ferries at low tides, however we understand the Lakes are still experiencing a metre of flooding, so the scouring will continue a little longer.”

Council representatives, recently in Hawks Nest for Community Conversations events, agreed that this was the case, including the fact that it is a short-term hope.

“Once the rains stop, the sand build-up will likely come back,” Council’s Paul De Szell agreed with comments made at the meeting by Mr Grainger.

Aerial photos show a clear exit in the Natural Channel, where, prior to the rains, there was a solid island forming up.

Unfortunately, this is not to last, as the rains inevitably subside, the complex, dynamic system around Winda Woppa will inevitably move sand around again, compounding the issues caused by historic ill-advised trucking of sand to the erosion zone along The Boulevarde.

The next Natural Channel dredging is not scheduled to start until 2025, and further upriver dredging works, for which the State Government announced funding back in January, and declared ‘urgent’, have not yet begun.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

New aerial photos show deeper waters in the ‘Natural Channel’ east of Corrie Island, for now. Photo: MRAG.

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