State MP Washington supports urgent need for Myall Estuary dredge

Kate Washington listens to Myall River Action Group/s Gordon Grainger explain a local perspective on the estuary’s health and need for urgent action, with crews from both ferries and community members surrounding.

FUNDING to dredge the Myall River-Estuary was announced by Member for Port Stephens Kate Washington during a visit to Tea Gardens on Sunday 21 January.

“The NSW State Government is committed to dredging the (Corrie) channel and getting it done ASAP,” Ms Washington said.

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“The NSW Government will work with MidCoast Council to expedite a dredging campaign following substantial sand inundation in the Myall River navigation channel which connects Tea Gardens to the magical Port Stephens estuary.”

Ms Washington has met with members of the Myall River Action Group, the Hawks Nest Tea Gardens Progress Association, ferry operators and local oyster farmers to hear their concerns about the impacts of the increasing sand shoaling in the area – most of whom were at the announcement.

Despite months of vocal local citizen advocacy, the announcement appears to be the result of last September’s Maritime Infrastructure Delivery Office (MIDO) hydrographic survey of the river, which confirmed the community’s claims of significant sand build-up in the navigation channel, from the estuary’s entrance right up to the Singing Bridge in Tea Gardens.

Minister for Transport Jo Haylen confirmed that the NSW Government will fund the urgent dredging of the Myall River navigation channel, working in partnership with MidCoast Council on necessary approvals and licences.

This announcement was not, however, for a specific date for the ‘urgent’ solution, with the dredging works “targeted to begin before the middle of the year – subject to obtaining all relevant approvals”.

The intended area to be dredged runs from the Singing Bridge to the Marine Park, with the navigation channel (Corrie Island Channel) being the main priority.

There was no news regarding the Natural Eastern Channel (nee ‘Shortcut’), as that is not the officially recognised navigational channel, and will not see dredging earlier than 2025.

MidCoast Councillor Paul Sandilands, also in attendance, told NOTA, “It’s fabulous that the State Government is providing the opportunity to dredge in this area, before the cessation of water traffic and impact of livelihoods like we saw recently in Wallis Lake, for the same sanding-up reasons.”

“It would also be lovely to see the State Government implement an ongoing/regular monitoring of conditions of waterways in order to provide funding relief more rapidly to prevent regular impacts on the Myall and Wallis.”

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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