by Jeni Bone
The first step in opening the Broadwater to larger vessels should be completed by Christmas with Gold Coast City Council putting up $2.5m to remove 200,000 cubic metres of sand off the eastern end of the Gold Coast Seaway.
The Broadwater is tidal, going out as much as 20m from shore, posing dangers for most sail and motoryachts.
Mayor Ron Clarke and Broadwater MP Peta-Kaye Croft launched the pilot dredging program last week, explaining that the sand removed will be used to replenish several Gold Coast beaches around Burleigh and Miami.
However, Cr Clarke and Ms Croft reiterated the program was not the solution for the troubled waterway but was instead the first step in making it safer and easier to navigate for larger vessels.
'The Seaway channel currently has a mariner's warning and the build-up of sand has prevented larger vessels from interstate and overseas coming to the Gold Coast,' Cr Clarke said.
'Visits by these big vessels can be worth many millions of dollars and providing them with access will be a boost for our marine and tourism industries.'
Queensland Minister for Main Roads, Fisheries and Marine Infrastructure Craig Wallace said the offshore dredging program was a first for the seaway and offered a range of benefits.
'This project is an excellent outcome for the Gold Coast marine industry and highlights theQueensland Government's commitment to the Steering Committee partnership and to improving outcomes for the city's waterways,' he said.
'Not only will the project aid navigation through the Gold Coast Seaway, the dredged sand will then be deposited offshore from beaches such as Surfers Paradise. This will provide better defence against erosion due to storm activity or king tides.
Broadwater needs re-dredging
'So it is definitely ‘win win' and identifying projects that will benefit one of the state's busiest waterways is one of the key objectives of the Steering Committee.'
Marine Queensland CEO Don Jones welcomed the announcement, saying the dredging program recognised the importance of the seaway to commercial and recreational boat operators.
'This is a positive outcome and will make a difference to anyone who uses the seaway - it is no secret that the build-up of sand can create hazardous conditions,' said Mr Jones.
'We are pleased to see the Waterways Steering Committee moving dredging projects forward and we look forward to continuing to work with the State Government and the Council for the benefit of Gold Coast boaties.'
Industry organisations and the boating community have welcomed this initial step, but warn that it should be part of an ongoing program of rehabilitation for the waterway, clearning the silt in canals and main access routes which make the Broadwater hazardous and in some cases impassable.