Emu Bay boat ramp construction project hit by rough seas

The Emu Bay boat ramp construction project has been hit hard by recent big seas, but the Kangaroo Island Council is downplaying any impact to the works completed so far.

CEO Andrew Boardman said he inspected the ramp on Thursday, July 26 and said while there had been erosion of the temporary containment wall used during construction, the actual new parking area structure itself had not been damaged.

The silt curtain, meant to contain any sediment and silt washed in from the works, had been washed back into the rocks but Mr Boardman said the contractors had reset the silt curtain when they returned to work on the project on Monday, July 30.

“The damage was minimal,” Mr Boardman said. “Some rock relocation, as happens on this ramp in winter storms anyway, and some material washed into the sea.”

Councillors Peter Denholm and retired engineer Ken Liu also inspected the construction site on Thursday.

Cr Liu said he had grave concerns that rocks and geo-fabric material had been washed into the sea and it could be a boating hazard. He said he was calling on the council to halt the project until an assessment of the damage could be completed.

“The most important question is the structural stability of the new boat ramp and whether it should be built without a protection of a breakwater?” Cr Liu said.

He also questioned whether the contractor had done the revetment wall work in accordance with the specifications, as the rocks used for the containment wall seemed to be too small and did not lock together.

A member of the public had notified the EPA and Coastal Protection Board about the sediment and erosion at the construction project, and these authorities had been in contact with the council seeking an update.

Photographs were taken on the containment walls being hit by northwesterly swell on Tuesday, July 24.

The contractors left the work site and Kangaroo Island earlier in July prior to the forecast round of bad weather that was set to continue through the next week.

Mr Boardman said the contractors returned this week after the weather had improved and resumed work.

The project had been set back by at least a fortnight, but Mr Boardman said he was confident the new boat ramp would be completed by September of October at the latest.

The actual new boat ramp had not been built yet, but there had been some community concern that the new structure was not going to be steep enough. Local boaters were calling for a slope of at least one in eight, so that trailers did not have to be backed in as far.

There were fears that if the ramp was too shallow, then boaters would have to back too far into the water and given the wave conditions would be in danger of being swamped.

 “The one in eight issue was resolved in April with it being confirmed that the existing ramp has a fall of one in eight and the new one will follow this grade,” Mr Boardman said.

“This was confirmed with engineers and also Anton Jamieson and Lance Tyley did their own measurements of the ramp and confirmed this so. This was reported to the Boating Facilities Committee back then.”