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Push to shift Edward River snag hazards

Edward River stakeholders met last week to discuss river issues including several fallen trees along the river.

TYLA HARRINGTON April 4, 2014 4:07am

Deniliquin Council hopes to ‘‘realign’’ several fallen trees along the Edward River which it says are creating a serious safety hazard for river users.

The ‘de-snagging’ project was recommended at a river stakeholder meeting organised by council on Tuesday last week.

The meeting agreed that it was ‘‘only a matter of time’’ before there was a major accident involving the problem trees which have fallen into the river.

It was decided that council and long-time river user Norm Barnett approach NSW Maritime to see if the trees can be shifted to the side of the river as opposed to protruding into the centre of the river.

Deputy Mayor Ashley Hall said the trees would still remain as a habitat for the river’s wildlife but would be realigned for the safety of the river users.

About 12 people attended the meeting at council chambers to also discuss river issues including river levels, policy for retaining walls along the river, and boat noise.

Cr Hall says council is focused on ensuring concerns relating to the Edward River are addressed.

‘‘We were hoping more government agencies would turn up at the meeting,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s major concerns, particularly from the skiing community about several snags creating safety problems.

‘‘It was discussed to have seven or eight trees realigned but for them to be still available for habitat.

‘‘There are talks the river will be at two metres (height) for Easter, which is on the borderline for recreational boating.’’

Cr Hall said council plans to hold another meeting as soon as possible.

With sandbanks now clearly visible in parts of the Edward River, it was natural for fluctuating river levels to be a hot topic on the night.

All people at the meeting agreed that fluctuating river levels was a major concern that significantly impacted and adversely affected tourist numbers.

River levels over summer were about 30cm up on normal levels and for that reason there were many more boats on the river, according to the group.

‘‘The uncertainty and lack of accurate communication of expected river levels made it difficult for local tourism operators to promote their business or provide advice to customers,’’ a meeting spokesperson told council.

Council general manager Des Bilske says a NSW Water Sharing Plan is in place to ensure suitable river levels until after the Easter period.

The plan was developed in the early 2000s and included a clause to maintain heights until after Easter, which was written into regulation as a result of a local push.

It is hoped representatives from NSW Fisheries, NSW Office of Water and NSW Maritime Services are able to attend the next river meeting to answer community concerns, Cr Hall said.

‘‘The policy regarding retaining walls needs to be clarified.’’

He said residents who have river access from their properties would like the policies and regulations relating to the construction of retaining walls clearly explained.

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