During the 2017 winter season the Maria Creek Boat Launch Facility saw a significant amount of seagrass enter the creek system, which has resulted in the entire facility being closed for the duration of the 2017/18 peak holiday summer season, Kingston District Council said in its latest release.
Dredging seagrass at the Maria Creek is a common annual activity of council, which usually only requires minor works. This year, after more than five weeks of continuous dredging and the removal of an alarming 35,000 cubic meters of seagrass, the facility is still unable to be opened due to the continuous and unprecedented flow of seagrass down the creek into the boat launch area.
Further to the extraordinary seagrass situation, a new issue has emerged which is the unforeseeable movement of sand around the top of the southern breakwater. In the period of just four (4) days approximately one meter depth of sand has blocked the entrance to the channel and is moving inside the creek system.
This is a direct result of the incredible amount of sand built up on the southern side of the main breakwater (between the jetty and breakwater) and along Kingston’s beach, particularly over the past two winter seasons, the council said.
The combination of seagrass and sand has now created an unmanageable situation for the council. On Wednesday, 31 January, 2018, Elected Members called a stop to all dredging works and invited Tonkin Engineers from Adelaide (marine infrastructure experts) to provide independent and professional advice on the circumstances.
Tonkins visited Kingston on Tuesday, 6 February, and conducted a full onsite assessment of the Maria Creek seagrass and sand situation. They briefed council on the same day stressing the enormity of the situation and the significant ongoing cost likely to be incurred if dredging works was to continue.
Tonkins also highlighted that even with ongoing dredging there is no immediate guarantee of success.
At the meeting of council held on Friday, 16 February, Elected Members formally resolved not to continue to expense rate payer’s money, without first fully understanding all options, associated costs and the likely outcomes/impacts. As a result of this decision, the Maria Creek Boat Ramp Facility will remain closed until further notice.
Over the coming weeks, the council will engage a coastal engineer to investigate short and long term options, including all associated costs (capital and ongoing) for the Maria Creek Boat Launch Facility.
Once this information has been received and carefully reviewed by Elected Members, a community engagement process will be conducted to ensure feedback from the whole community is received and fully considered as part of council’s decision process.