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Future project? . . . Dredging work may be done to remove a build-up of sediment at the entrance of Oamaru Harbour. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

The possibility of dredging the entrance to Oamaru Harbour is a discussion that needs to be had by council sooner rather than later, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says.

Prone to build-ups of sediment, the entrance to the harbour has not been dredged since 2011, when a digger supported by a fishing boat was employed by the Waitaki District Council to carry out the work between Holmes Wharf and the end of the breakwater.

Before that, a digger with a long-reach boom carried out similar work in 2009.

Mr Kircher said it was time to revisit whether more dredging work was required.

“We know that the harbour entrance has been kept open for quite a good period of time since it was last dredged, but it is slowly silting up again and we need to make sure we’re doing what we can to keep the harbour still usable.”

He said the first step would be to find out exactly how deep the entrance was, determine how much sediment needed to be removed then formulate a plan.

However, work needed to be done before any project got to that point.

That included how any dredging work would be funded.

In February 2012, the Otago Daily Times reported that, for several years, the council had put aside $100,000 a year for dredging work.

That funding ceased during the 2012-13 financial year.

However, as part of its Oamaru Harbour Development Strategy attached to its 2012-22 long term plan, the council did commit $25,000 the following year to save on costs and investigate other options that “were sustainable or self-funding”.

Mr Kircher said no discussions had been had within the council about future dredging work and related funding, but he was keen to get the ball rolling.

“We’ve haven’t got money there, but its certainly my expectation we’ll need to keep the entrance open so we do have to get serious about it and make sure we are putting money aside. That’s something we have to consider as a council. We’ve got to ascertain what the current position is and go from there.”

He planned to bring up the issue at the next Oamaru Harbour committee meeting.