Silting blamed for cancelled ferries
Silting of the Ettalong channel has caused the cancellation of two ferry services from Palm Beach, according to the service's management.
But Gosford Mayor Cr Chris Holstein has claimed that area involved was not the area identified for dredging.
Cr Holstein attacked the Palm Beach Ferry Service for creating "misleading, inaccurate and disappointing" comments following the cancellation of two ferry services between Wagstaffe, Ettalong and Palm Beach on January 12.
He said dredging was a State government responsibility.
According to Palm Beach Ferry Service general manager Mr Matthew Lloyd, two afternoon services were diverted to Patonga due to extreme low tides at the "entrance channel".
The ferry service provided free return buses from Ettalong to Patonga and a free water taxi service to Wagstaffe to and from Ettalong to reduce any disruptions to commuters.
"I have been warning the local government that the channel was silting up for 18 months now," Mr Lloyd stated in a press release on January 12.
"I warned them that if it progressed in the same fashion then ferry services would have to be cancelled because the waterway is physically to shallow for our ferries to enter.
"I had hoped that it would have been dredged before it came to this but unfortunately it hasn't.
"This also possesses a serious threat to the private boat user who faces running aground and causing serious damage or injury if their vessel draws in excess of 1.2 metres."
Cr Holstein said the low tide affected area made reference to by Mr Lloyd was not the area identified by the State Government for dredging.
"I would like to reiterate that the area that Mr Lloyd is calling into question is not the area that has been identified by the State Government for dredging and to further remind Mr Lloyd and our community that this area is a NSW State Government responsibility," Cr Holstein said.
"The fact is king tides are part of the natural occurrence of our waterways that we experience every year.
"In response to claims of the threats posed to boat users, responsible boat owners and skippers plan their trips by reading the relevant tide charts, contacting WaterWays and registering their planned trips with Coastal Patrol prior to heading out on the water."
According to Mr Lloyd, extreme high and low tides can be attributed to the time of year and the full moon.
"The tides have been low all week however, today is the lowest of the year 0.08 at metres," Mr Lloyd said.
"We will assess the tides and depths on a daily basis as to whether this cancellation will have to occur again in the coming days.
"It is believed at this stage that services will operate according to timetable."