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‘We’re confident we can turn this decision around’: dredging talks resume

The Pumicestone Passage is a maze of a sand and water.

Posted on October 19, 2022

A build-up of sand in a busy waterway is set to come to a head when community groups meet with government.

Mountains of sand have clogged parts of the Pumicestone Passage since a tidal breakthrough at Bribie Island in January.

The Caloundra Coast Guard has essentially been blocked in and other boaties have been restricted at low tide.

Meanwhile, community groups also hold concerns over the future of the passage and its surrounds. A 2009 study revealed possible impacts of a breakthrough, including increased tidal range, higher levels of foreshore erosion and loss of dune habitat.

Representatives from Caloundra Coast Guard, Take Action for Pumicestone Passage, Bill’s Boat Hire and Caloundra ferries will meet with State Member for Caloundra Jason Hunt, Sunshine Coast Council officials, hydrologists and Maritime Safety Queensland general manager Kel Dillon on Friday, October 21, to address the issues.

Caloundra Coast Guard’s initial plea to have sand dredged was rejected in late August but the group’s commander Roger Pearce hoped the idea will be discussed further on Friday.

“They (MSQ) have said no to dredging at this stage but … we’ll talk this through,” he said.

“We’re still quietly confident that we can turn the decision around.”

Sand blocks the passage at low tide.

Mr Pearce expected there would be significant backlash from the local community if dredging wasn’t seriously considered again.

“If they say no to it, there will be a massive community outcry,” he said.

“I reckon we could get 100,000+ signatures for a parliamentary petition in absolutely no time.”

Caloundra Coast Guard received a reprieve recently, when they welcomed a new boat that can traverse shallow water, but Mr Pearce said more needs to be done in the passage.

He hoped dredging could take place within the waterway’s ‘secondary channel’.

“The answer we were provided with a month ago doesn’t seem to stack up – them (MSQ) saying the passage would be filled with sand again if they attempted some dredging,” he said.

“Our argument is to get that secondary passage dredged, and that could give us full access with all three of our vessels and allow Caloundra ferries to access Caloundra again.”

He said dredging might not be the ultimate solution, but it was worth trying.

“I think with a bit of persuasion from the community, it will happen, but until we trial it, we won’t know if it works.”

The passage from above, and the breakthrough at Bribie Island.

Maritime Safety Queensland General Manager Kell Dillon told Sunshine Coast News in late August that conditions were not stable in the passage and dredging could be pointless.

“The ocean breakthrough at Bribie Island has resulted in a dynamic coastal system which is yet to establish equilibrium, particularly with changes in wave action following winter and ongoing South-East Queensland severe weather events,” he said.

“Any dredging carries a very high risk of sand re-filling the works in a very short time.”

“No works are recommended until a clear understanding of the likely outcome is known.”


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