Aerial of Ballina bar and surrounds.
Aerial of Ballina bar and surrounds. David Nielsen

Report says dredging Ballina bar could cost $5 million a year

A REPORT on the feasibility of dredging the Ballina bar has shown that it would need to be done at least four times a year and could cost up to $5 million annually.

The report, prepared by BMT WBM for the Department of Primary Industries, found that dredging a 100m-wide channel with a 4m depth clearance at low tide would satisfy all stakeholders.

About 20,000cu m of sand would need to be dumped.

"Analysis of the last 10 years of longshore sand transport suggests that maintenance would be required four to six times per year at a cost of $2-5 million per year and as a matter of best practice and to accommodate cumulative effects it is recommended that this sand be placed in the active zone north of the entrance to minimise long-term shoreline impacts," the report states.

Dredging of the lower Richmond River, particularly the entrance area, has occurred since 1883, but was stopped in 1974.

However there have been numerous incidents on the bar recently.

Concerns about the dangers of the bar have been raised by the Ballina Fishermen's Co-op, Marine Rescue Ballina and Jet Boat Rescue crews.

The BMT WBM report states that dredging will have only minor shoreline impacts, but it was "strongly recommended" that the dredged sand be placed in the near shore zone north of the river mouth to ensure there is no net loss of sand from the system.

Despite the study being released to stakeholders, it is still not known whether dredging will proceed.

Earlier this month a spokesman from Crown Lands said stakeholders would now be asked to provide feedback on the feasibility study.



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