Environmental Monitoring Crucial for Reducing Dredge Impacts (Australia)
A comprehensive study into capital dredging released by Ports Australia reveals that modelling and monitoring programs across Northern Australian ports including Abbot Point confirm environmental impacts are well understood and managed.
NQBP supports these findings and states that the extensive range of monitoring techniques proposed for the dredge program at Abbot Point will ensure that impacts from dredging remain localised and temporary.
“Although the modelling of anticipated impacts has been a crucial element in ensuring successful dredging campaigns, how we monitor the dredge program in real time is what allows us to mitigate impacts,” said Brad Fish, CEO of North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP).
Dredging works are preceded by comprehensive oceanographic studies, which model an outline of anticipated impacts. The model is verified against actual past campaigns and scientific principles.
Prior to the commencement of dredging, water quality loggers are located in key areas surrounding the dredge area to ensure impacts on sensitive receptors such as corals and seagrass are mitigated.
As dredging commences this real-time monitoring of suspended sediment levels and water quality in the immediate surrounds plays a pivotal role in guiding and managing the dredging activity.
“Real-time monitoring will allow for a quick response to any potential issues throughout the dredging campaign. If water quality levels at the surrounding monitors approach regulated levels, dredging will stop to ensure levels remain within limits,” said Fish.
Also used during dredging is detailed satellite imagery of the plume which will be consistently cross-checked to validate real-time data.
“This extensive monitoring process will complement a range of other techniques all aimed at limiting dredging impacts. In addition to monitoring before and during dredging NQBP will continue to monitor for five years past the dredge campaign to ensure ongoing analysis and management,” said Fish.
Over $20 million will be invested to satisfy conditions, particularly around monitoring and other management programs.
Three tiers of governance, including a Technical Advice Panel, Management Reference Group and Environmental Site Supervisor will also assist in providing input into monitoring and management for the dredging program.
“To date, we have invested in excess of $2 million to develop one of the world’s most extensive environmental assessments and will continue to adhere to some of the most stringent environment conditions ever imposed on a dredging program,” said Fish.