No money for St Huberts Island dredging, council told
St Huberts Island residents will not be getting their canals dredged any time soon.
Central Coast Council staff have said there is not enough money available for dredging.
The matter came to council on January 29 after Cr Rebecca Gale Collins asked last year what had happened to the funds raised by residents for dredging on St Hubert's Island, back when that area of the coast was Gosford City Council land.
Council staff reported that the fund had $380,789 in it as of November and that was not enough for dredging given the environmental and site constraints.
The report to council said the canals of St Huberts Island were defined as both artificial waterways and submerged blocks of council owned land by virtue of their classification as "drainage reserves".
"These canals are classified as 'operational land' under the Local Government Act 1993 and accordingly are managed differently from natural waterways,'' the report said.
"In the past, zoning of the drainage reserves prohibited structures such as pontoons, jetties, walkways and moorings within the reserves.
"Following amendments to permit a limited number of structures within the reserves, the former Gosford City Council resolved that funds and associated interest collected from the adopted licence fees for structures and mooring spaces, be used exclusively for the maintenance and improvements within the canals
"These fees have been collected and accumulated in a fund with a current balance of $380,789 as of the end of November 2018.
"Following a request from a resident, Council recently carried out an investigation into the feasibility of beach scraping activities whereby residents could scrape sand back from the low-tide mark to nourish the shorelines.
"A preliminary acid sulphate soils assessment was undertaken which included material sampling from within the intertidal zone of all the canals at a maximum depth of 500mm below ground level.
"Subsequent laboratory analysis of the samples confirmed the presence of acid sulfate soils in the canals.
"With the current level of funding in this account available for maintenance and improvements within the canals, dredging is not an option given the environmental and site constraints.
"With the confirmed presence of acid sulphate soil in the canals, there will be high costs associated with the treatment and disposal of dredged spoil material at an appropriately licensed facility to accept the relevant class of waste.
"Such high costs would mean that it would not be possible to complete these activities within the current funds available.
"Detailed environmental studies of the beds of these drainage reserves would be required, and approvals such as dredging permits and environmental licenses to disturb these areas would be high-cost, and may be difficult to obtain.
"The undertaking of a hydrographic survey to verify canal depths and sedimentation to facilitate evaluation of current conditions against the original design would also be required to determine any future maintenance options for the canals,'' the report concluded.
Central Coast Council agenda 5.11, 29 Jan 2019
Reporter: Merilyn Vale