MidCoast Dredging Operations
We are currently undertaking and planning a range of dredging projects across our region. These works are the result of feedback from our community and relevant authorities and work to improve navigation and safety in our waterways, with an added bonus of being able to use the dredged sand to renourish areas of our coastline that have been eroded.
Hawks Nest Dredging
Update: Our dredging operation at Hawks Nest is now three quarters of the way through with optimal conditions allowing the project to run smoothly throughout August.
At the beginning of September Council’s contractors, Dredging Solutions, completed the renourishment phase of Jimmys Beach.
More than 20,000m3 of sand was piped on to the beach, earlier than originally planned to help repair the eroded beach following June and July’s East Coast Low.
Dredging conditions remained favourable throughout August with the project now slightly ahead of schedule. The contractors have 31,000m3 of sand still to dredge to complete the project, and anticipate finishing up around mid-October.
To date 90,000m3 of sand has been removed from the Eastern Channel of the Lower Myall River.
This week Dredging Solutions will move onto the Sand Transfer Station Access Track to deposit sand.
We will continue to update as the operation progresses.
Previously: At the halfway mark of this project, 60,000 m3 of sand has been dredged and added to the Winda Woppa stockpile.
While the series of storm events through June and July slowed operations on certain days, the team had been pushing hard during finer conditions to ensure they remain on schedule and the navigation channel progresses as expected
Council had originally intended to start moving sand onto Jimmys Beach in September, however this has been brought forward to combat the significant erosion sustained over the last few weeks.
The pipe work and booster pumps for this part of the operation were mobilised over the weekend (1-2 August) and the team began pumping 20,000m3 onto the beach this week (3 August).
The dredged sand will target the section of beach between Guya Street and Kururma Crescent and will complement future sand placement projects by the Sand Transfer System.
Locals will need to look out for signage indicating limited beach access during this replenishment work, which is expected to take up to six weeks, weather permitting.
Previously: Onsite activities for the planned dredging of the eastern channel of the lower Myall River will begin on Monday 25 May.
This will be welcome news to the Hawks Nest community and regular users of the waterway as sediment has been gradually accumulating over a long period, resulting in shallow areas throughout the channel.
Dredging Solutions will undertake the work on behalf of Council and the team will start mobilisation of the dredge, pipeline and booster pumps via the Moira Parade boat ramp in Hawks Nest on Monday, with dredging expected to begin at the beginning of June.
Dredging works are anticipated to take 27 weeks and will be completed in October.
This section of the lower Myall River is dredged intermittently to improve navigation.
The project will involve the dredging of 120,000 cubic metres of marine sand from the identified shallow areas of the eastern channel, ultimately resulting in a safer navigation for boat users.
20,000 cubic metres of dredge spoil will be pumped onto Jimmys Beach where it will be used to renourish and provide a temporary sand buffer for ongoing beach erosion.
The remaining 100,000 cubic metres will be added to the stock pile at Winda Woppa, to be used by the Sand Transfer System.
Boat users are advised to be aware of changed conditions in the area during the works period, including underwater, anchored pipelines and limited thoroughfare in the channel. A second closure of the boat ramp will be required at the end of the dredging in October.
A grant from the NSW Government’s Rescuing our Waterways Program covers half of the $1.7 million project cost, to support the delivery of this project.
We will be updating this page as this project progresses.
Previous dredging activities
Crowdy Harbour boat ramp dredging - November 2019
We consulted with recreational fishing groups and other regular users of the Crowdy Head boat harbour who were in support of dredging.
Over four days, contractors removed sand that had built up and was impacting the depth of all four boat ramps within the harbour.
The sand that was removed was transferred to a nearby section of eroded foreshore to help replenish and stabilise the area.
Harrington Backchannel - 2019
16,000 cubic metres of marine sediment was dredged from Harrington back channel over 10 weeks to improve navigation through the area. The sediment was then pumped on to Manning Point Beach to provide a temporary buffer for ongoing beach erosion.
Boat navigation was significantly improved within the back channel providing greater depth in zones along the middle, as well as the entrance to the Harrington Waters marina and at the upstream river entrance.
The sand was deposited into the surf zone at Manning Point beach as per the environmental conditions of the job.
The sand continued to be reworked by the wave action, widening the beach at the 4WD access point.
This project was the result of consultation and collaboration between a range of groups and resulted in a number of positive impacts for the MidCoast community and beyond.
The project was funded by a NSW Government Rescuing Our Waterways grant and Council’s Environmental special rate.
Why do we dredge?
Primarily, we dredge to improve safety and navigation in our waterways. Sand and sediment buildup can create shallow areas in our rivers and lakes that are dangerous to our boat users. Dredging this buildup means there is a clearer, more navigable path. Council talks with Maritime Services Boating Safety officers and the boating community to identify boating channels that require dredging to improve safety. We then use this excess sand to replenish and renourish different areas of our coastline that have been eroded.
How much does dredging cost?
The cost depends on the size of the project. The combination of the volume of sand/sediment being removed and the distance to the deposition site, factors into a dollar per cubic metre rate. Each dredging job is assessed based on these factors to ensure the expense to carry out the task is cost effective.
Is it harmful to the environment?
No, dredging is not harmful to the environment. It is primarily a safety procedure, with each and every dredging project having its own assessment of environmental factors undertaken and relevant licencing and permits acquired.
Where does the dredged sand go?
We use the sand to replenish sections of beach and areas of our foreshores and coastline that have been eroded. The sand replaces what has been lost and is a buffer for future erosion. In some locations dredged sand is used to support migratory bird species who visit our area.
Does Council own a dredge?
No we don’t. We employ contractors to undertake the work for us. Our staff support and assist where they can but dredging companies own and operate the equipment.
At Jimmys Beach, why are you dredging instead of using the STS?
Our approach to Jimmys Beach has always been multi-faceted and this means using a range of methods to renourish the beach front. While the Sand Transfer System is our primary source of renourishment, other programs in the area complement this. The stockpile of sand at Winda Woppa that feeds the STS was exhausted during its last operation. Currently we are dredging the lower Myall River and the dredged sand is being used to replace the stockpile for future STS campaigns. In the meantime, while the pipework is set up, we are also using it to dredge straight onto Jimmys Beach for immediate replenishment of the sand that has been lost in the recent storms.
Can you only dredge at certain times of year?
Dredging programs are restricted to the months May to November annually. This restriction is to accommodate the migratory shorebirds who visit our MidCoast area between late November to April each year. The birds love to use the dredge sand as a place to roost. To ensure we do not disturb their annual southern migration, we avoid dredging at these times.