At Council's meeting of May 9th, 2017 Narooma councillor, Phil Constable asked a Question on Notice regarding his community's concern for sand loss on Lewis’s Island in the Wagonga Inlet
His question was preambled with: (source) Lewis Island once supported a house and oyster sheds. More recently it has been a location for families to picnic, fish and recreate. The Island supporting BBQ facilities, children swings and picnic tables. It has been the chosen location for several weddings, and is an important piece of the Narooma tourist experience.
Now this piece of infrastructure is under threat. Erosion from a change in the Inlet channel
compounded with the wash from larger fishing vessels has resulted in the removal of the
swings, several the BBQ’s and seating as the sand base is washed from underneath.
A public meeting was held on the island Friday week past to garner support for the protection
and rehabilitation of the Island. Over sixty residents attended.
Speakers expressed their concern at the increased level of sand accumulating in the Inlet and
inadequate navigable nature of the current channel for marine vessels with the suggestion of
the removal of the marine sands from the channel and their redisposition back onto the island
to reclaim its former footprint and amenity.
At this point of immediate concern is to stabilise the existing southern shore and prevent any further erosion. To this end members of the community offered to contribute to the effort of
‘sandbagging’ the vulnerable area; and further suggested a reduction in the speed with which
vessels can navigate past the island to reduce the impact of wash from boats.
What is Council currently doing to mitigate against the further erosion of Lewis’s Island; and
what further measures can Council undertake to maintain and reclaim the area of Lewis’s Island that have been damaged by erosion?
Additionally, what actions is Council undertaking, or proposing to undertake, to remove the sand build up within the Wagonga Inlet?
Council provided a response in writing to be tabled with the recommendation to that the response to the question regarding Lewis Island, Narooma raised by Councillor Phil Constable be received and noted. However Councillor Constable was not satisfied with this. Councillor Constable advised the staff and his fellow Councillors that simply Receiving and Noting his questions did not address the immediacy of the the issue. In their response Council staff advised that they had identified the issue and had written to the Department of Primary Industries & Lands, seeking consideration of:
1.Undertaking dredging of the navigational channel
2. Use of the dredged sand (in part) to renourish Lewis Island and would continue to advocate to the NSW Government to fully fund and implement an ongoing dredging program for navigation channels along the NSW coastline. Councillor Constable however wanted Council to seek immediate reduction in vessel speed adjacent to the island to reduce any further damage to the shore and that sandbagging or some other technology be employed to restore and protect the diminishing shoreline. Councillor Constable offered the observation that, during the last dredging exercise carried out in the Wagonga Inlet, sands drifted into the Marina bay and deposited there at depth and, as a result, he understood that berths were lost with a financial consequence to the marina operator. He understood that the last dredging was ineffectual. Councillor Constable also offered the observation that the Inlet had a net-inflow of sand and because of this it presented an excellent argument to disperse those sands to renourish and rehabilitate Lewis Island. While Council staff offered to inspect the area to see if shore line restoration MIGHT BE required Councillor Constable assures them that it IS REQUIRED and even provided staff with links to technologies being used successfully around the world for such restoration and protection. Director of Infrastructure, Warren Sharpe, made the comment to Clr Constable that the link between the last dredging and the siltation build up at the marina was unproven. Councillor Nathan asked of Mr Sharpe if the sand movements are measured to which Mr Sharpe answered that sand movements are measure in Batemans Bay but not in Narooma as the NSW government was more proactive in Batemans bay due to the dollars they receive from activities in that area Councillor McGinlay added his voice to the discussions by advising that the community meeting he and Councillor Constable attended on Lewis Island showed a passion and vary strong connection to that island by residents and visitors and that their was justifiable concern. Of primary importance to this project is the understanding of limitations. To the east of Narooma bridge the responsibility for the maintenance of that waterway sits with the State Government however to the west t sits with the Department of Primary Industry and Maritime. Maritime does have a responsibility to ensure navigability and DPI has a strong interest and responsibilities to the oyster industry. With the net-inflow there is a lot of sand to deal with. Far more than could be used to renourish Lewis Island. And it is critical that any extracted sand is moved responsibly so as not to impact on other areas of the waterway. DPI have indicated that they are positioned to pay for half of the costs however Councillor Constable has indicated that he does not wish to see the community financially burdened by the project that, if not managed correctly, might become an endless task. There are options of removal of the sand to renourish local beaches that have been recently impacted by large seas. In the short term Council will be requesting Maritime reduce vessel speeds in the adjacent channel.