MidCoast waterways given $1.3 million grant

Manning Point pontoon, installed last year using the previous round of NSW Boating Now funding.
Manning Point pontoon, installed last year using the previous round of NSW Boating Now funding.

A $1.3 million State government grant to MidCoast Council was expected to benefit local boaties.

The funding bonanza would deliver improvements to waterways throughout the local government area.

Fishing, boating and water sports are favourite pastimes of both  residents and the thousands of tourists who visit the Lower Mid North Coast every year.

Now with an injection of funding, a range of welcome improvements will be carried out to boating facilities, navigational channels, and areas of riverbank, stretching from Tea Gardens in the south, to Harrington in the north.

In the NSW Boating Now program, council’s natural systems team was successful earlier this year in applications for six different projects, attracting a total of $718,757 in State funding.

Council added to this with a contribution of $211,586 from the Environmental Levy.  

“Our region is well known for its amazing waterways, and providing safe access for our community and those visiting the region is a priority,” community spaces, recreation and trades manager, Dan Aldridge said.

“This latest round of funding through the Boating Now program is a huge win”.

Works to be undertaken include extending the ramp at Harrington boat ramp for safer low-tide access, formalised car parking at Cundletown boat ramp, and expansion of an existing fishing platform at Darawank Park.

Other locations to benefit from the funding include the effluent disposal station in Tea Gardens, the Bohnock boat ramp, and Taree’s Andrews Reserve boat ramp.

In a second funding application, $493,450 has been secured through the NSW Rescuing our Waterways Program, and will be used to undertake maintenance dredging of popular navigational channels at Tuncurry, Harrington back channel, and Farquhar Inlet.

MidCoast Council natural systems manager, Gerard Tuckerman, is delighted with the funding win.

“Continuing with our planned maintenance dredging is critical to sustaining recreational and commercial boating opportunities in the Manning River and Wallis Lake, both of which are important to tourism and the future growth of the region,” Mr Tuckerman said.

Matching funding by MidCoast Council for the dredging projects will be made through the Environmental Rate and the Harrington Marina Levy.

And making it a trifecta, an additional $80,000 grant has been secured through the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ Recreational Fishing Trust Habitat Action Grants for three riverbank restoration projects on Oxley and Jones islands in the lower Manning and Lansdowne rivers. 

In addition to the grant, council will contribute $26,500 from the Environmental Levy, with local landholders also making significant cash and in-kind contributions.

The riverbank restoration projects involve constructing rock fillets, or barriers, in front of the eroding banks to help encourage the return of mangroves, along with fencing to control stock access. 

Together with weed control and replanting, these projects will help restore and protect around two kilometres of severely eroding riverbank.

Erosion, caused by factors such as land clearing, cattle grazing and boat wash, is an ongoing local issue that results in sedimentation of our waterways. 

“Excessive sediment creates cloudy water that reduces light available for seagrass to grow; this is detrimental to fish habitat,” estuaries and water quality co-ordinator, Prue Tucker said.

“The sediment irritates the gills of fish and smothers the organisms that fish feed on having further impacts,” she said.

“By stabilising the riverbank, water quality is improved with flow-on effects for fish stocks and species condition. 

“Recreational and professional fishers in our area will see the benefits.”