The NSW government has announced it will commit up to $600,000 to dredge sections of the Tweed River and Terranora Inlet to maintain navigation channels for commercial fishing and tourism charter vessels.
Minister for natural resources Kevin Humphries made the announcement this week during a visit to the northern rivers when he also announced $3.3 million for coastal infrastructure improvements in the Clarence River region.
Mr Humphries said the Tweed funding would improve the health of two key Tweed waterways and maintain navigation channels critical for commercial and tourism operators.
Tweed MP Geoff Provest said the dredging works would be undertaken in the first half of next year.
Mr Provest said hydrosurveys, geotech sampling and environmental assessments for the section of the river from Tumbulgum to the inner bar and the Terranora Inlet were due to be completed early next year, with the dredging to be done between March and July.
Mr Humphries said the Tweed dredging was one of the first five projects in the government’s priority north coast dredging program to be undertaken over the next four years.
He said $10 million over four years had been committed in this year’s budget ‘to deliver priority dredging projects in waterways between Forster and Tweed Heads’ as part of the government’s aim to restore navigation and the health of key waterways across the state.
‘These two vital projects aim to maintain navigation channels critical to the operations of industry, the commercial fishing fleet and tourism charter vessels,’ he said.
But Tweed shire councillor Katie Milne described river dredging as ‘old fashioned’, ‘a temporary fix’ and ‘money down the drain’.
Cr Milne says that as soon as sediment is removed, the river silts up again.
The Greens councillor, who sits on council’s river committee, said she was also concerned about the ecology of the river in that toxic sediments were stirred up in the process.
‘We should ensure erosion which causes much siltation doesn’t happen in the first place,’ she said.
‘It’s not environmentally friendly.’
Of the $3.3 million for the Clarence River projects, Mr Humphries said $1 million was being invested in the Yamba Boat Harbour, including upgrades to mooring, catwalks, revetment wall and replacing piles at the jetty.
A tender for the project has been called with work scheduled to start early next year.
A further $1 million would be invested to upgrade the Clarence River northern breakwater over the next two years, up to $700,000 for dredging works at Yamba and Iluka and $600,000 for dredging on the Evans River.
As part of these works, up to 30,000 cubic centimetres of clean sand will be removed from the Evans River and dredging will be undertaken at the Iluka boat harbour and Yamba boat harbour channel between March and July.