Centre for Maritime Safety


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NSW Boating Wash and Riverbank Erosion Management Strategy

A pilot project about improving the management of boating in areas that may be subject to significant riverbank erosion issues.

Communities across 11 regions in NSW were consulted with on the NSW Regional Boating Plans.

These discussions with the communities were to help identify actions regarding safety, access and storage with the aim of creating a better boating experience. One of the most common themes arising from feedback we received was riverbank erosion.

Riverbank erosion management is a undoubtedly a significant issue for the future health and stability of our river systems. With the help and consultation of local communities, the next step is to develop a state-wide policy for managing boating-related erosion issues, which will include considering infrastructure solutions where possible.

Transport for NSW (TfNSW) has also been talking with local councils and authorities that have a role in looking after, managing or caretaking in and around our river regions.

In late October 2014, TfNSW commenced a consultation program with communities in the Tweed, Clarence and Williams River areas, and in late November have also held pop-up display sessions for the public to find out more about the proposed approach and ask us questions.

If you were unable to attend one of these sessions, you can view the information boards (pdf 533KB) outlining the approach.

The consultation outcomes will contribute to the development of a state-wide strategy and pilot local management plans that will assess erosion issues and potential solutions to improve riverbank management. Pilot plans for the Tweed, Clarence River (above Ulmarra) and the Upper Williams River will be used to gauge the effectiveness of this approach and will assess:

  • the condition of riverbanks and potential solutions for managing the effects of erosion.
  • possible infrastructure investment options for the rivers.
  • if relocation of some water activities is possible or desirable.
  • potential changes to regulation in order to better manage boating and erosion.

Next steps

Initial consultation sessions have now been held in all three areas. TfNSW will take on board what you have said as further scientific evidence about erosion is gathered, and prepare draft management plans to improve these issues.

Further consultation sessions on the pilot plans and possible management solutions will be held in 2015.

If you’re interested in participating in this process or would like to receive updates, please contact the Centre for Maritime Safety.

Clarence River

The Clarence River Erosion Management Plan (pdf 460KB) is now finalised and comes into effect from 1 September 2015. New restrictions are now in place and other elements of the plan, such as scoping of remediation works, are underway.

The Management Plan is about striking a balance between the environmental needs of the river and ensuring boaters, businesses and local residents can enjoy the river for years to come in a sustainable and responsible manner.

The actions will be in place for a period of three years from 1 September 2015 to 1 September 2018. During this period, a new Committee established to implement the Plan will assess its effectiveness, monitor the river state, assess the Plan’s effectiveness, consult with stakeholders and community and recommend any changes that may be required.

The Management Plan was developed following extensive community consultation and in consideration of scientific evidence established by the University of NSW Water Research Laboratory. Key resources are available below:

RMS Boating Safety Officers are responsible for enforcing compliance with the relevant regulations on the Clarence River. Any issues of non-compliance with the regulations can also be reported by calling 13 12 36 8.30am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday and 8.30am to 4.30pm Saturday and Sunday.

Some documents on this page may not comply with accessibility requirements (WCAG 2.0). If you are having trouble accessing information, please contact us.

Williams River

Riverbank erosion on the Williams River was raised as a major issue during consultation held in 2014 on the Port Stephens – Hunter Regional Boating Plan. Similar issues were raised for other river systems across the State.

In response, a state-wide framework for riverbank erosion management has been developed to ensure riverbanks are managed consistently and maintained for future users. A scientific assessment of the causes of erosion and potential management options is a key element of this approach.

In early 2015, the University of NSW Water Research Laboratory (WRL) was engaged to conduct a study of the riverbanks of the Upper and Lower Williams River using an internationally-recognised Decision Support System. This study is now finalised and it recommends management actions to address the areas of the river with the highest vulnerability to erosion.

This report was released by RMS for public consultation in late 2016. Feedback from this consultation is being used to inform the development of a draft Erosion Management Plan for the Williams River. Further investigation is also being undertaken on the feasibility of options to manage the parts of the river that are most susceptible to erosion which will further inform the development of the draft Erosion Management Plan. It is anticipated this draft plan will be released for consultation by the end of 2017.

The draft Plan will seek to balance the environmental needs of the river with the needs of boaters, landowners and other waterway users, as well as Hunter Water which draws water from the river to help supply drinking water for the Lower Hunter region.

More details on the WRL report and consultation process.