Battle to re-open Coffs Creek mouth
By BELINDA SCOTT
FIVE massive machines rumbled on to Park Beach yesterday to do battle with Coffs Creek's new sandbar, with the blessing of the Solitary Islands Marine Park and NSW Fisheries.
Three Coffs Harbour City Council graders and three front-end loaders went to work from 9am yesterday in a concerted effort to use the low tide to shift an estimated 70 cubic metres of sand.
The aim was to create a wider and deeper channel to reopen the blocked mouth of the creek, which closed on December 31, also flooding Ocean Parade under the Park Beach bridge.
Coffs Harbour City Council's director of city services, Jason Gordon, said the extreme weather conditions over the last three days had blocked the creek mouth and the rain had added water to the creek so the emergency work was to avoid the possibility of localised flooding.
He said they had feared if there was more rain the blocked creek would damage assets like council pumping stations and could back up into the stormwater pipes in the central business district, while some people around Coffs Promenade had been worried.
The Pet Porpoise Pool also draws water for its dolphin pools from Coffs Creek and needs clean seawater for its animal pools.
Council water testing staff tested the creek water yesterday to make sure it was still safe for swimming.
A council spokesman said the viaduct normally only went under at high tide, but the sand blockage meant the high tide had been able to get in, but the creek water had not been able to get out and this, combined with the big waves of the last few days, had made the problem worse.
He said this had been compounded by the current relatively small difference between the high and low tides.
An attempt to open the creek on Wednesday was unsuccessful, with heavy waves quickly sealing the creek mouth.
With seas predicted to peak at five metres late yesterday, the mouth of the creek could close again.
With rain continuing, council yesterday alerted the SES and the occupiers of buildings near the creek there could be a risk of flooding.