THE state government has wasted at least $300,000 on dredging Swansea Channel because the work has failed and the channel is still choked with sand, boaties say.
Insiders said the government had increased its budget on the project, but boaties called on officials to stop wasting taxpayers’ money.
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They said the dredge was too small and the technique of shifting sand from shallow to deep areas was useless.
Swansea MP Garry Edwards blasted government officials over the channel problem yesterday.
‘‘I’ve had a gutful of interference from bureaucrats,’’ Mr Edwards said.
Mr Edwards said the channel dredging project was being handled from the Department of Primary Industries Crown Land office in Maitland.
‘‘We shouldn’t be listening to bureaucrats sitting behind a desk at Maitland,’’ he said.
‘‘Until we start listening to lake and channel experts and local boaties, we will continue to waste money.’’
Mr Edwards said he was working with Lake Macquarie Council Aquatic Services Committee chairman Ken Winning on a long-term dredging plan.
It includes the government buying a permanent dredge to be based in Lake Macquarie.
Brad Minors, who runs a charter boat business in Lake Macquarie, said the government should ‘‘do the job properly or let the channel close’’.
‘‘The dredge being used is not able to do the job and this should have been obvious to the people in charge of issuing the tender document,’’ Mr Minors said.
Boat Owners Association Hunter secretary David Johnston said it was the ‘‘worst dredging effort I’ve seen in all my time’’.
Channel depth had worsened since the government began dredging last December, with the dropover at one-metre depth, boaties said.
Mr Minors, who runs charters from the lake to the ocean, said his vessel ‘‘bottoms out three times in three separate areas’’ in the channel.
The government said last November that Swansea Channel and Black Neds Bay would be dredged for $300,000, with the entire project to be completed by this month.
Dredging was to start in the channel at Swan Bay, before moving to the dropover and Black Neds Bay.
Boaties said the Swan Bay dredging had not been completed and public officials had told them the government had doubled the project’s budget to $600,000.
A Crown Land spokesman did not disclose details but said ‘‘the budget has not been doubled’’, and that Swan Bay area dredging was expected to be finished over the next few weeks.