Excavator required for boat ramp

At its Council meeting in March, Coffs Harbour Council approved the purchase of a long reach excavator to improve dredging at its boat ramp in the harbour at Jetty Beach.

Chair of Council’s City Services Committee, Councillor Bill Palmer, said the ongoing maintenance problems associated with this ramp are long standing and well known.

“A series of measures have been put in place in recent years to combat the sand infill issue, but the most successful has been found to be regular dredging,” he said. “Having an appropriate excavator available whenever it is needed is going to be a major improvement to the situation.”

At the meeting, Council heard that sand build up at the mouth of the boat ramp, and within the ramp itself, has become an increased maintenance burden due to approximately 55,000 cubic metres of sand now infilling the harbour every year.

Over the past eight years, a total of $358,500 has been spent on dredging from that small area to keep the boat ramp operational and safe for users. The amount spent annually, rising from $3,437 in 1998/1999 to $71,194 in 2005/2006, is a reflection of the increased volume of sand building up in the harbour.

Council’s Executive Manager Operations, Allan Hindmarsh, said the sandbag groyne now in place was constructed to reduce surge at the mouth of the boat ramp, but it was also hoped that it would help reduce sand build up.

“While the groyne wall has achieved its objective of reducing surge at the ramp, it has not decreased the rate of infill into the boat ramp,” he said.

Previously, dredging of the boat ramp has been undertaken using a contract long reach excavator or a drag line when required. These items of plant are not available locally and are generally transported from Brisbane, Sydney or Newcastle. The costs associated with hiring are high and the excavator is not always available when needed.

Council agreed to the purchase of a second hand long reach excavator with $150,000 from Council’s current plant fund. A standard boom and arm will also be bought to ensure the excavator is used as extensively as possible.

Council expects to purchase the machine in the next couple of months.