Council navigates review of canal maintenance
  • Wednesday 10 November 2021
Canal maintenance review dredge in operationA canal maintenance plan will be developed to outline works planned on the six major canal systems and a range of public access points across the Sunshine Coast following recommendations endorsed at today’s Ordinary Meeting (Wednesday November 10, 2021).

An independent review recommended reinstating the original beach profile, removal of vegetation from the beach and an audit of unapproved structures – with the view to request property owners with an unregistered structure to apply for approval to keep their structure or remove it.

Sunshine Coast Council Coastal Constructed Water Bodies and Planning Manager Michael Anderson said healthy canal systems were an important part of local lifestyles and were essential for a healthy ecosystem.

“This review was conducted in response to concerns raised by residents around the condition of some canal systems,” Mr Anderson said.

“And we thank the residents for their contributions to the review.

“At a workshop in April 2021, weeds, debris and rubbish in the canals; silting and erosion; water quality; canal dredging; and changes in the beach profile were among the concerns raised.

“An independent engineering contractor found that council was meeting its responsibilities but further work would benefit our environment.

“A canal maintenance plan will be developed for all the canal systems and the current residents’ handbook, which is published on council’s website, will be updated to reflect the adoption of the review recommendations.”

The full report and list of recommendations are available on council’s website. 

The current canal residents handbook is available on council's coastal pages.

How council has addressed the main concerns raised by canal residents

The existing beach profile does not resemble the original profile.
Council will change the sand level at each property to more resemble the original design profile.

This includes reinstating the rock profile (called scour protection) to properties that had rock treatment in the original design instead of sand. Previously, all properties received sand from a dredge even if they originally had rock.

Prior to dredging, barges and excavators will may reprofile the sand bank ready for the dredging and in some cases may only require this work to get the sand closer to the design level.

Canal dredging schedule and processes
Council will move from a three-four year schedule to a three-year dredging and maintenance schedule.

The report will also recommend a budget submission, for consideration at a future council budget meeting, to support implementation of the review plus review efficiencies gained through such items as reduced beach profile/reverting back to rock profile.

Weeds, debris, rubbish in the canals
Council will remove vegetation such as grasses and trees, and undertake compliance action to manage illegal structures from in front of the revetment walls.

The trees will be targeted first and grasses will be removed as required when a barge or excavator does profiling works prior to dredging.

De-silting
The review recommends council continues to undertake a program of removal of silt from canals. To ensure that this program is targeted and effective, it is recommended a program of regular bed surveys of the canals is implemented and included in the vicinity of stormwater drainage outlet structures and other locations prone to siltation.

Offsite water quality
Compliance with water quality parameters has been directed to council’s Development Services to consider for development applications for new developments.

Midges and sand flies
Control of midges and sandflies is not included in the canal maintenance program. This issue has been referred to the appropriate area in council.

A fair and equitable maintenance schedule across all canal networks
Council will develop a canal maintenance plan which covers all the canal systems and will provide details on:
• the statutory obligations of council in relation to canal maintenance
• the type and frequency of the canal maintenance undertaken by council as a level of service
• explain the responsibility of the landowner to maintain the revetment wall and private structures (including site drainage)
• explain council’s responsibilities when undertaking works of a discretionary nature and, where it does undertake such works, it is not obliged to maintain those works in a particular manner, including for the improvement of aesthetics.

Implementation of the Review recommendations will ensure Council’s legislative obligations in relation to the management of canal assets are met.

Property owner knowledge of individual maintenance responsibilities
Council will update the current canal property owner handbook to outline maintenance responsibilities at https://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Environment/Rivers-and-Coast/Coastal-Management.