Work is well underway on the new boat ramp at Emu Bay after lengthy delays due getting environmental approvals.
KI Council chief executive Andrew Boardman said work began last month on the adjacent land-based elements of the ramp and construction of precast concrete planks.
But the hold up has been in the contractor getting approval from the Environment Protection Authority to construct the actual concrete ramp structure down into the water.
“As part of the development approval, the contractor was required to obtain a dredging permit and get approval from the EPA for their construction and environmental management plan and their soil erosion and drainage management plan,” Mr Boardman said.
“This approval took longer than expected but has now been given.”
The project has been awarded to Adelaide-based contractor Civil Tech, who has brought over four of its own workers who will complement four KI locals for the duration of the works..
The new ramp structure will consist of a larger approach area leading down to a dual ramp with an 8 metres wide ramp on the eastern side and 4 metres wide ramp on the western side separated by pylons.
There will be jetty structures on either side where boats can be tied up during the launching process. The outside of these will be fitted with wave breaker boards which should make the mooring and launch / recover operations on the ramps easier and safer for users.
The whole structure will be built up to 3.1 metres above sea level at its highest point meaning the approach will be above water even at the highest tide. A large area to the west of the approach is intended to be filled in.
The actual construction of the ramp into the water will entail the placement of temporary rock walls out to the furthest pylon to form a coffer dam or dry area where concrete can be poured.
There will also be silt curtains in place to prevent any stirred sediment from clouding the water.
The works are planned for completion at the end of August 2018. The $1.6 million project will be paid half by the KI Council and half by SA Boating Facility Advisory Committee (SABFAC) construction fund.
In the last week, the major earthworks commenced included removal of some of the rocks at the top of the existing driveway down to the ramp.
It was during the moving of these rocks that 12 little penguins were found in burrows between the rocks.
An investigation and report commissioned by Council prior to works commencing had always identified the existence of penguins in the upper rock structures but initial indications were that there were only two active burrows.
“It is a real positive that there are so many penguins in that location and show how good the environment is at Emu Bay,” Mr Boardman said.
The council was required to have a qualified penguin monitor on duty during the construction, who supervised the relocation of penguins to six new burrow homes made to Department of Environment specifications.
The six burrows have built in a line along the embankment off to the side of the construction area.
The council has set a number of cat traps in the area since the penguins were relocated and a feral cat was caught on Wednesday night.
The initial design of a large rock breakwater in front of the ramp structure was abandoned due to cost and the view of the co-funding body, SABFAC, being that the proximity of Emu Bay to the all-weather boat ramp in the Bay of Shoals made justification for another “all-weather” ramp very difficult.
However, Mr Boardman said the council would look at the feasibility of a smaller, floating wave-breaker device in front of the ramp to create an additional level of protection should the weather blow up between launch and recovery.
“Due to costs and environmental issues the outer break wall was removed at this stage, but council is investigating the use of a floating wave attenuation device,” he said.
The right or eastern arm of the existing ramp structure will remain open to boat traffic during construction.
“We are aiming to leave the right-hand-side ramp open throughout the project until such time as the main ramp can be opened,” Mr Boardman said.
“This will be dependent on safety, if it is not safe for ramps users and construction to occur at the same time then both ramps will be closed for a short period of time.”