Australia: MP Calls on Authorities to Urgently Consider Manning River Dredging
Alarmed at a severe deterioration, Leslie Williams, Member for Port Macquarie, has called on the State government to carry out dredging of the Manning River.
“At the current rate of deterioration, it is feared the river will be impassable within the next month which will have an intolerable impact on business and tourism in the Manning Valley,” she said yesterday.
Both Mrs. Williams and the NSW minister for primary industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, agree that the dredging should be conducted “as a matter of urgency“.
“I have previously raised this issue with Minister Hodgkinson and have been advised that dredging of the Manning River and Lake Cathie will be carried out as was promised prior to the State election”.
Mrs. Williams stated that she had a meeting with the minister to once again stress the need for the dredging to be done.
She further added that Alan Steber, General Manager of Taree boatbuilding company Steber International, has explained that there is now only 1.8 of a meter clearance at high tide in some areas adjacent to the Harrington Breakwall, which is the worst he has seen it in almost 40 years. There are now at least four sand islands in the estuary, and several more shallow near-islands are forming.
In late September Steber International, in cooperation with Federal member for Lyne Rob Oakeshott and Manning Business Chamber’s economic development manager Steve Attkins, won a $5 million contract to build five vessels for the Australian Defence Forces, to be used by the Navy for diver training and general naval purposes.
Construction of the first vessel is being undertaken in Steber’s Elizabeth Avenue factory, however there is a reasonable fear that it won’t be able to cross the Harrington bar to be delivered in the New Year.
The latest 34-foot vessel completed by Steber for Maritime Services’ use in Middle Harbour, Sydney, touched the bottom exiting the bar, even on a 1.6 meter high tide.
Mr. Steber has expressed his considerable concerns about whether a bar crossing for a 48-vessel across the bar for a re-fit in Taree will be possible. He is also troubled with the fact that it will be difficult to get contracts from all over the world to keep a stable workforce in Taree.
He has called on the authorities to urgently consider immediate dredging.
Dredging Today Staff, December 2, 2011; Image: gov.au