Australia: PoMC Plans South Channel Maintenance Dredging

Port of Melbourne Corporation (PoMC) proposes to conduct maintenance dredging in South Channel in February / March 2012 to remove a naturally occurring build up of sand and ensure that the declared depths of the channel are maintained for the safe operation of shipping to and from the Ports of Melbourne and Geelong.

The work is required as a routine part of port operations as sediment builds up in channel areas over time due to natural wave, tidal and storm events. PoMC has recently undertaken hydrographic surveys which have shown that the declared depth at sections of the South Channel have been compromised by up to 0.3 of a metre which imposes a constraint on deep draught vessels transiting the channel.

As a result, PoMC has installed marker buoys and issued a precautionary series of Notices to Mariners advising them of the reduced draught depth. Dredging of this clean sand is expected to be undertaken over approximately a six week period (subject to available dredging capacity) outside the peak summer tourist season and will be governed by an approved Environmental Management Plan (EMP) subject to the requirements of Victorian and Commonwealth law.

A total amount of around 300,000 cubic metres of sand from the South Channel will be removed as part of the limited program. By way of comparison, this volume represents approximately 2% of the volume dredged from South Channel during the Channel Deepening Project. The dredged material will be placed within the South East Dredged Material Ground located west of Mount Martha.

Reduced draught access is an impediment to the port – it is akin to a lane closure on a major highway” said PoMC Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Bradford.

“We have already put in place sensible restrictions on deep draught vessel transits and this limited maintenance dredging program will be undertaken to remedy that situation by removing clean sand from affected areas of the channel.

“As the name suggests, maintenance dredging is undertaken to maintain a declared depth. It differs from Channel Deepening in that it provides no additional draught depth. Maintenance dredging is an ongoing part of port operations as has been the case over the last century. Other areas in the north of the bay, including channels and berths in the port vicinity, will need to be dredged over the next decade and PoMC will seek the appropriate approvals to undertake this work.

“However, the need for maintenance dredging in South Channel has become increasingly urgent to ensure safe and efficient access to the Port of Melbourne”.

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Dredging Today Staff, November 30, 2011;

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