Swansea Channel dredging

Swansea Channel

Transport for NSW Maritime is funding a major dredging campaign of Swansea Channel in 2022 to improve navigation channels and provide access to Lake Macquarie.

Latest news

NOV 2022

NOV 2022Project update

Transport for NSW planned to complete a dredging campaign prior to Christmas 2022 to assist navigation during the boating season.

Because of the discovery of endangered shore birds, including the Little Terns which are currently nesting on sand island until February, we are unable to start dredging at this time.

The dredging campaign will now take place following the end of the nesting season of endangered shore birds around February 2023.

As part of ongoing monitoring of the channel, we have identified that the “Airforce Channel” which runs east-west between Naru Point and the lake, has been naturally deepening and now provides an alternative navigational route into Lake Macquarie.

We will be marking the “Airforce Channel” with navigation markers in December to indicate the temporary additional navigational access into Lake Macquarie.

For more information, the latest community update (PDF, 219Kb) with more information is now available.

Project information

Swansea Channel connects Lake Macquarie to the Pacific Ocean and Is the only entrance to the popular boating area in the Hunter region. Lake Macquarie is twice the size of Sydney Harbour and the largest saltwater lake in the Southern Hemisphere.

The history of Swansea Channel indicates that this is not a natural continually open navigational channel into Lake Macquarie. Since 1970 Swansea Channel has been dredged 20 times.

Interventions such as the construction of the Lake Macquarie Entrance Breakwaters in the late 1800s were built to allow larger vessels in for industry purposes.

Due to the dynamic nature of Swansea Channel there will be continual need for interventions such as dredging to maintain the channel.

While there is good access to the lake for the majority of users with boats on trailers that can launch from one of the many boat ramps around the shoreline, maintaining access to the ocean through the narrow Swansea Channel is of major importance to recreational boating in the region, particularly cruising yacht clubs.

The proposed dredging intends to deliver a channel from Pelican to Marks Point that is 3.5 metres below Australian Height Datum (AHD) and 60 metres wide allowing vessels drawing a maximum of 2.5 metres draft to transit the channel. This work will be completed in two stages.

  • The first stage, an emergency dredging contract is planned so we can complete part of the critical work by Christmas which will allow easier navigation to the area during this peak time.
  • The second stage, will be the remaining work, which will allow us to achieve the completion of the major dredging program to reach the 60 metre wide channel with a 2.5 metre draft.

Like all major construction projects. Dredging projects must go through legislated planning approvals including completeing the Review of Environmental Factors (REF) before proceeding.

Transport for NSW Maritime is working as quickly as possible to complete our investigations and work with all relevant stakeholders to prepare the necessary environmental approvals prior to seeking tenders for the dredging of Swansea Channel.

The community will have an opportunity to have their say on the project when the Review of Environmental Factors (REF) is expected to go on display in the coming months. This environmental assessment will inform members of the community of the details of the dredging project.

TfNSW is working towards the establishment of a long-term, sustainable dredging program to support boater access to key waterways. To improve efficiency, reduce costs and enable more consistent and frequent dredging to be undertaken in the future.

We are also developing a strategy to secure funding for a long-term statewide dredging program to improve efficiency, reduce costs and enable more consistent and frequent dredging to be undertaken in the future.

We are continuing with planning and project development including carrying out the environmental investigations which will inform the next 10 years of dredging in the Swansea Channel.

Our next steps are:

  • Displaying the REF
  • Completing a “Have Your Say” on the project, to seek community feedback on the sand placement locations
  • Advertise and award the dredgigng work
  • Starting the major dredging campaign in 2023.

Swansea Channel is a popular area of Lake Macquarie and can become very congested during busy periods, especially during the summer months. With the current depth restriction in the channel vessels are required to transition in a zig zag pattern which, coupled with congestion of vessels, can make navigation challenging.

The channel conditions are monitored by Maritime Boating Safety Officers and navigation markers are regularly moved to reflect current conditions.

The navigation channel may not be passable by all vessels at all times. The channel entrance into Lake Macquarie is highly dynamic and it is incumbent upon vessel masters to assess the conditions for their vessel before undertaking passage through Swansea Channel.

Safe navigation through any channel is ultimately the responsibility of the vessel’s master, taking account of a range of factors including the size of their vessel, weather, tides, water depths and the speed at which they travel.

As part of ongoing monitoring of the channel, we have identified that the “Airforce Channel” which runs east-west between Naru Point and the lake, has been naturally deepening and now provides an alternative navigational route into Lake Macquarie.

We will be marking the “Airforce Channel” with navigation markers in December to indicate the temporary additional navigational access into Lake Macquarie.

Conditions and depths in Swansea Channel change regularly. Deep drafted vessels of more than one metre are advised to carefully plan any trips through Swansea Channel, navigate with caution and if in doubt, avoid the trip entirely.

Archived news

Transport for NSW Maritime is working on a two-stage dredging program for the Swansea Channel.

It is our intention to complete the first stage of this dredging by Christmas to allow easier navigation of the channel during this peak time.

The second stage of dredging, which we aim to start in 2023, will clear the channel from Pelican to Marks Point. It will be 60 metres wide and allow vessels drawing a maximum of 2.5 metres draft to transit the channel.

We are also developing a 10-year plan for future dredging of the Swansea Channel.

Transport for NSW Maritime is working as quickly as possible to complete our investigations and work with all relevant stakeholders to prepare the necessary environmental approvals prior to seeking tenders for the dredging of Swansea Channel.

The navigation channel entrance into Lake Macquarie is highly dynamic and may not be passable by all vessels at all times. Skippers are reminded of their responsibility to assess conditions before negotiating any marine channel.

For further information please see the Swansea Channel Navigation Advice on this page.

Start of dredging work is planned for September and will be completed in November 2022.

Transport for NSW Maritime is working as quickly as possible to complete our investigations and work with all relevant stakeholders to prepare the necessary environmental approvals prior to seeking tenders for the dredging of Swansea Channel.

The navigation channel entrance into Lake Macquarie is highly dynamic and may not be passable by all vessels at all times. Skippers are reminded of their responsibility to assess conditions before negotiating any marine channel.

For further information please see the Swansea Channel Navigation Advice on this page.

Conditions and depths in Swansea Channel change regularly. Deep drafted vessels of more than one metre are advised to carefully plan any trips through Swansea Channel, navigate with caution and if in doubt, avoid the trip entirely.

Project documents

 

Contact us

For more information contact the project team:

Phone: 1800 271 100

Email: SwanseaChannelDredging@transport.nsw.gov.au

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