Maintenance dredging – again and again…..!

December 2011

On a cold and windy October night some hardy souls attended the Port of Melbourne Corporation’s Rosebud information session on the Corporation’s plans for the next 10 years.

What a ramshackle affair it was. Only a handful of handouts, a couple of cardboard posters on wonky sticks, no seating. We stood listening to several PoMC operatives delivering the usual assurances.
Of course they did not want to talk about the sudden massive erosion of Portsea beach following Channel Deepening. And, like the DSE and OEM, although they weren’t sure what had caused it, they were sure that it was NOT related to the removal of almost 1 million tonnes of reef and rock at the Entrance during Channel Deepening. We all endured almost two hours of this torture before disappearing into the cold dark night.
According to the two page brochure on show that night entitled ‘Maintenance dredging 2012-2021 (which we now can’t find anywhere on the PoMC website) dredging is planned for all channels dredged during the Channel Deepening project, including the North and South of the Bay, Yarra River and The Entrance, with up to 15 weeks dredging per year every year.
It did exist once! Front page of missing brochure  
So, there’s been one hell of a lot of dredging in the Bay since Channel Deepening kicked off in 2008, and there’s plenty more TO come according to PoMC. Consider this:
Channel Deepening started February 2008 and officially ended on 25th November 2009.
And – according to PoMC, there’s plenty more planned until 2021 – by which time we guess they’ll want to start all over again.  No wonder PoMC was so keen to ensure that Maintenance dredging was not assessed as part of the Channel Deepening EES. 
So, it’s been almost non stop dredging since early 2008. We’ve had some mighty swift changes to southern peninsula beaches since then, several years of failed snapper spawning (in spite of reportedly good catches of adult fish at present, we understand Primary Industry survey data indicates there are very few babies to replace them) 
 ………….and let’s not forget that we now have a 6 sq. km clay sided underwater toxic dump in the North of the Bay in perpetuity.
By the way, there is NO monitoring for toxins or contaminants in the dump or surrounding areas. The Port Corporation’s Environmental Management Plan did not require the sediments and waters surrounding the dumpsite to be monitored for potential contaminant leakage. So, where over 3 million tonnes of toxic and contaminated sludge has been dumped in the last 3 years, monitoring efforts amount to one visual inspection per year.
So, yes we are still concerned about the impacts of past and future dredging.

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