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25/09/2018 12:00 a.m.
Heavy machinery will start arriving in Oamaru between 27th September and 2nd October for stage one of a dredging contract carried out by Rooney Earth Moving who last dredged the harbour channel in 2010.
What will they do? They’ll be dredging a 120 metre long by a 40-metre wide portion of the Oamaru harbour channel to a depth of three metres at low tide (at present it is down to about 1 metre at low tide), 7,000 cubic metres of dredging material is proposed to be removed from the channel.
Why? A review was called for in 2017 after Dunedin yacht Katherine Johnstone struck rocks near Moeraki and faced difficulties trying to enter the Oamaru Harbour. Waitaki District Council Chief Executive Fergus Power said at the time, “safety considerations are paramount, the council needs to provide safe access in and out of the harbour for fishing boats and private recreational boats.” The Waitaki District Council remains keen to improve the level of service offered for harbour activities and access - there have been several larger yachts and launches unable to enter over the past few years.
The heavy machinery involved in the dredging project will consist of a 40-tonne long reach excavator, 30-tonne excavator and 35-tonne dump truck. The dredged material will be used to establish a temporary causeway along the harbour side of the breakwater in order to provide access to carry out repairs and rock armouring on the sea side of the breakwater. It is expected there will be truck and trailer movements bringing rocks for armouring the breakwater and this may cause some restriction to public access at certain times. Any disruptions will be signposted and advertised.
How much will this cost? The initial contract will cost in the vicinity of $180,000 +gst, a second stage is proposed to commence in March/April 2019 which will involve dredging 18,000 cubic metres, providing a five-metre deep channel and costs for this are yet to be finalised.
There should not be any impediment to surfing the north side of Holmes Wharf as a result of the dredging and operators will take great care not to disturb blue penguins, who mostly do not come home through the channel and tend to keep to the eastern side of the breakwater.
The machinery will be parked on the beach near the colony during the process of the work, which is weather-dependant and expected to continue through to December. Waitaki District Council Projects and Assets Officer Grant Rhodes said he was looking forward to getting the channel dredged to a safe state and progressing work on the breakwater structure which is a Category One heritage structure.