Targeting erosion on the banks of the Orara River

Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh at the Upper Orara River, Karangi, with Rivercare project officer Sam Hessey and Orara Rivercare committee members, secretary Ron Smith, Steve Thompson and president Garry Dew.

EROSION is being repaired along the Orara River thanks to two NSW Government Habitat Action Grants funding practical, on-ground rehabilitation works for fish habitats, including managing stock access to waterways, revegetating native plants, reintroducing large woody habitat and bank stabilisation works.

The two projects benefiting from the grants are ‘Orara River Erosion from Camphor Laurel in Nana Glen’ ($40,000) and ‘Repairing Erosion on the Upper Orara River’ ($19,640).

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Members of Orara Rivercare, president Garry Dew, secretary Ron Smith, Steve Thompson and Rivercare project officer Sam Hessey met with Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh at the site of a recent erosion repair grant off Upper Orara Road.

The two sites given funding were damaged in the 2020 floods and are suffering from erosion in key fish habitats.

One of the sites, in Upper Orara, is in the drinking water catchment for Coffs Harbour town water supply and is also habitat for Eastern Freshwater Cod, an endangered species, which has just been restocked earlier this year to help the population there.

“In that site we’ve got giant barred frogs, tusked frogs and a number of other species that will benefit from repairing this erosion,” Rivercare project officer Sam Hessey told News Of The Area.

“These erosion sites contribute so much sediment to the water that it affects all the organisms in the water.”

The other side is just upstream from the pump station for Nana Glen’s water supply.

There’s a lot of soil dirt coming into the river, so the aquatic health will benefit from the repair here too.

Once the erosion is repaired using the Habitat Action Grants, both sites will be revegetated by the Orara River Rehabilitation Project through their funding from City of Coffs Harbour.

The site Mr Singh visited on Friday, 18 November shows three types of repair work: pin and rock groins, a weir construction and rock revetment work.

“With the shallow-rooted camphor laurels getting soaked, and the wind blowing through their bushy tops, they fall into the river taking the bank with them,” said Ron Smith.

“The river has widened by four meters as a result of the March 2022 floods.

“It’s a big job, particularly to get grass paddock back to rainforest, but in the long term that’s the only solution to this erosion, to get rid of the camphor laurel, revegetate and manage.

“The river is full of stacks of these trees that have come out of the banks.

“Some people say it’s the trees we’ve poisoned, but it’s not, it’s all the ones we didn’t poison that have been able to grow and then fall in the river.”

Orara Rivercare has two preferred local erosion repair contractors: Van Den Berg Earthmoving in Karangi and Engineering and Civil Contractors in Emerald Beach.

“We need contractors who know how water works.

“They are very dynamic systems, if you don’t get it right it won’t work.

“Paul Van Den Berg has grown up on the river, he understands how it works, his understanding is phenomenal,” said Garry.

Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh said, “I acknowledge the efforts by local landholders, and the community generally, over the past 25 years and the financial support from all levels of government, particularly the City of Coffs Harbour.

“These projects will benefit our local community and will have a long-term positive impact on native fish in our waterways.”


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