Inlet dredging finally gets forward momentum

SUSSEX Inlet residents’ campaign to have local waterways dredged has had a small win.

About 100 people attended a meeting at Sussex on Thursday night where details of a report into the needs of dredging in the Shoalhaven were released.

Representatives from federal, state and local government attended the meeting with Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash pointing out this was the first council in about 20 years to tackle the issue.

“We will have our submission in for the state government funds that have been made available for dredging and if successful that will be put toward dredging at Sussex Inlet,” Mrs Gash said.

“Sussex Inlet will be first and then Lake Conjola will be next.

“We have money put aside to do the state government REF [Review of Environmental Factors] studies.

“We are putting $200,000 up front so we can prove our credibility to the state, so they can see what we are planning and if we’re doing it correctly.

“If we can get a private partnership happening, any money we make from that will go into further studies.

“We’re going to put it to tender. We think the beach sand is a useful commodity for cement but at this stage don’t know what they’ll pay.”

Cr Gash doubted the dredging would start before next year but was hopeful to have it done next year.

“This is a good start, but we have to prove our credentials to the state government.”

She said the issue concerning retaining walls and sand erosion which related to residents on the canals would be addressed by letters written to about 300 property owners asking what their specific issues were.

Sussex Inlet property owner Mike Greenwood said residents welcomed council proposals to remove the excess sand from blocking their channel near the sea entrance.

“Cr Patricia White and Mayor Jo Gash are to be congratulated on this initiative,” he said.

“While phase one is only small it is a welcome start,” he said.

“Their proposal to remove only 10,000 cubic metres of sand is only 2 per cent of the excess sand in the channel and less than the annual increase that washes in from the sea in most years.

“But we need it to be the first step towards a permanent ongoing waterway maintenance program like on the Gold Coast.

“So for that reason it will be just as important to recycle the money from the sand that is sold so the program can be continually repeated.”

While Mr Greenwood welcomed council’s plan to invite all residents for comment he stressed the urgency required for some repairs.

“Blocked channels, collapsing canal walls and exposed asbestos need to be addressed because these things are causing erosion to neighbouring properties, collapsing boat ramps, garden walls and other structures, as well as the flood damage from the restricted drainage. 

“Nevertheless the new impetus from the mayor and counsellors must be applauded and we look forward to seeing their solutions,” he said.

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