NSW Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Ports and Waterways Andrew Stoner and Nationals candidate for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams launched the NSW Liberals & Nationals sustainable dredging strategy, Rescuing our Waterways, in Lake Cathie on Friday.
Under Rescuing our Waterways a NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will commit $1.5 million in funding to support urgent dredging projects across NSW.
“The NSW Liberals & Nationals will ensure important coastal river systems remain open and accessible,” Andrew Stoner said.
“As part of our policy, a NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will dredge the waterway entrances at Camden Haven River inlet and Hastings River.
“At Lake Cathie dredging of the area upstream of the Ocean Drive Bridge and the foreshore area east of the bridge should be undertaken in the short term.
“These waterways are critical to the ongoing viability of the regions, marine industries and local tourism sectors but also are great recreational assets for the local communities.”
Nationals candidate for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams said the announcement was an important step for the local area, given the Hastings River, Camden Haven River and Lake Cathie estuary support a diverse range of social, economic and environmental concerns.
“The NSW Liberals & Nationals policy will provide ongoing recreational boating access and the continued viability of commercial boating operations,” Leslie Williams said.
“It also allows for the continued viability of waterway-associated tourism operations as well as the maintenance of tidal flows in high priority oyster growing areas.”
The announcement was welcomed by the Lake Cathie Progress Association president Rob Tate and secretary Jack Jones.
“For a start it will alleviate the problems associated with fish kill: the depth will improve, it will improve the water quality and recreational use,” Mr Tate said.
Mr Jones said two years ago the lake was opened by Port Macquarie-Hastings Council to the sea. The lake west of the bridge was so shallow that after a hot day the oxygen was depleted from the water and there was a fish kill.
“Previously the area west of the Ocean Drive bridge was governed by about five different bodies, now it’s all under the Department of Environment and Climate Change so it should be a simpler process to get the lake dredged,” Mr Jones said.
“Twelves studies have been done on improving the lake and all have been ignored.”
Mr Stoner said dredging in the Camden Haven River would be conducted in consultation and under the guidance of the boating fraternity and the relevant government department, regarding the sandbar at the river’s entrance.