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Coast Guard Foundation LEADERBOARD 1

Debris flow from extreme weather event a risk to boaters even outside flood zones

by Penny Robins 23 Mar 00:45 PDT
Marine debris © NOAA Fisheries

Fast moving and potentially deadly debris is flowing through large areas of the NSW river systems, prompting a call for all non-essential boating to cease until the current severe weather event passes.

NSW Maritime Executive Director Andrew Mogg said while it should be obvious that boaters should not consider launching in flooded rivers, it was crucial people understand the hidden dangers associated with boating in other parts of the river system.

"What we are seeing on the NSW North Coast is a 1 in 100 year flood event, while we are also seeing issues all through the NSW waterway system, even waterways hundreds of kilometres from flood zones," Mr Mogg said.

"People need to understand just because it may not be raining at your location - the flow of flood waters across the State is severe and has impacts downstream some hundreds of kilometres away.

"The impacts to and associated risks with flooded waterways such as Hawkesbury or Macleay rivers may seem obvious, as the surrounding towns are literally under water and in some cases entire houses are floating past.

"Everyone is strongly advised to monitor weather and flood warnings and adhere to any guidance provided by SES and emergency services. Now is not the time to go boating.

"Due to the centralised nature of the river system, this flood event is impacting all of our waterways as water flows downstream.

"Just like we know that the majority of an iceberg lies below the surface, debris and hazards in a waterway are often submerged or semi-submerged. We are receiving reports of trees, shipping containers, vessels and large remnants of infrastructure such as buildings and jetties."

Mr Mogg also reminded boat skippers there is a high probability hundreds of navigation markers are off-station and will need to be re-installed. The clean-up work will start once the hazardous conditions have eased.

"Our Boating Safety Officers will conduct audits of all of the State's waterways when it is safe to do so and we will be getting on with the job or reinstating these markers. But until then, if you're on the water you are effectively boating blind."

Members of the public can report navigation markers out of their original location, or vessels washed up on beaches or rocks on 13 12 36.

Members of the public seeking emergency assistance during a flood or storm should call the NSW State Emergency Service on 132 500 or visit their website

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