There has been a lot of misinformation put out recently with regard to the Boat Ramp in the harbour so I’d like to explain some of the challenges Council faces in terms of natural processes and State Government responsibilities.
The natural flow of sand along the whole Coffs Coast runs south to north. Each year, hundreds of thousands of tonnes is pushed by ocean currents past the Harbour mouth. Due to the way the Outer Harbour breakwalls were built, around 70,000 cubic metres of that sand flows into the harbour. Over time this has reduced the average depth of the Harbour by approximately four metres.
This excess sand build up in the Outer Harbour is then naturally pushed toward the south wall – and the boat ramp – whenever there is a reasonably sized north easterly swell. That sand then accumulates in the boat ramp and ends up creating a sandbar.
Council cannot deal directly with the crucial problem of sand build up in the Harbour as a whole as it is under the control of the State Government.
We have, however, looked into ways to address the issues at the boat ramp. In 2015, Council – with the support of a $1m State Government grant – enlarged the boat ramp basin to help cut the wave surge into the ramp. This approach was taken – as opposed to extending the boat ramp groyne – on the advice of the State Government’s own expert hydraulics laboratory.
Back in 2007, Council also bought a long-reach excavator primarily for use at the boat ramp. On average we excavate and remove between 6,000 and 7,000 tonnes of sand a year. The annual cost is in the vicinity of $100,000.
The boat ramp issue is a symptom of the far larger problem of massive sand infiltration into the whole harbour.
A genuine, long-term and sustainable solution to the sand bar issue at the boat ramp is likely to require significant State Government action regarding the dredging of the Outer Harbour.
Council will continue discussions with the relevant State Government agencies on that issue while doing what we can in the immediate vicinity of the boat ramp.
Councillors have also welcomed the recent formation of a community group called the Coffs Harbour Regional Boat Ramp Precinct Enhancement Group and have pledged to work with the Committee in the development of a future concept plan for the precinct.