Department of Transport to remove seagrass wrack from beaches surrounding Port Geographe

Seagrass wrack built up around the western groyne at Port Geographe in 2017.
Seagrass wrack built up around the western groyne at Port Geographe in 2017.

The Department of Transport has issued a statement that work will commence as soon as possible to move seagrass wrack and restore part of the sandy shoreline of the Western Beach at Port Geographe ready for the holidays.

DOT is undertaking the work and will engage contractors who will use earth moving equipment to push the seagrass wrack to clear the shoreline.

DoT director coastal facilities Donna West said the work was additional to the maintenance campaign already announced for the Western Beach, marina entrance and Wonnerup, to provide benefits for locals and visitors this summer.

"To maintain safe navigation and ensure the water quality within the marina, dredging of the Port Geographe entrance channel is generally required during spring and early summer," she said.

"This is to clear the entrance to safe depths for vessels and allows the marina to flush with clean water from Geographe Bay with the tides.

"It's anticipated the marina dredging will be completed in the next few weeks prior to the busy summer holiday period."

Ms West said a special meeting to discuss the coastal management at Port Geographe, convened by the City of Busselton at the request of DoT, was planned for December 5, 2019 and would involve community and stakeholder representatives.

She said the DoT was working in partnership with the city, prior to and throughout the reconfiguration project has worked closely with the local community and remained committed to delivering the best outcome for the reconfiguration of the coastline at Port Geographe.

In 2017, Busselton resident Wally Dawson fell through the build up of seagrass wrack along Geographe Bay. Image supplied.

In 2017, Busselton resident Wally Dawson fell through the build up of seagrass wrack along Geographe Bay. Image supplied.

A community meeting will be held on December 8, 2019 in the park adjacent to the western groyne at Port Geographe with residents who are fed up with the continuous build up of seagrass wrack.

Resident Peter Maccorra said they have endured 22 years of loss of amenity due to the unnatural accumulation of thousands of tonnes of seagrass wrack on the western beach at Port Geographe.

In 2017, the City of Busselton closed the beach because it was unsafe.

That same year, Busselton Resident Wally Dawson was walking along a dry patch of wrack, which looked safe and away from the water's edge, when he fell through it down to his shoulders.

Mr Macorra said the response from DoT was well short of the expectation of residents.

"Clearly the DoT has no understanding, consideration or appreciation of what the residents of Port Geographe have to contend with," he said.

"The DoT has continually hid behind a management program written by them which is totally ineffective in dealing with the unnatural accumulation of seagrass wrack on the western beach at Port Geographe.

"The residents request the DoT to immediately implement a management plan to clear all of the unnaturally trapped seagrass wrack from the western beach and investigate and implement a long term solution to ensure we are not in this same position next year.

"The notion that it is acceptable to allow for thousands of tons of unnatural accumulation of seagrass wrack to remain on the western beach well into December is totally unacceptable, considering other beaches of Busselton are generally cleared of seagrass wrack at the end of October each year.

"The Department of Transport should be ashamed at their feeble attempt to try and get themselves out of the mess they have created.

"The most effected residents, the ones who pay a special area rate (an additional increase of 2 per cent of City of Busselton rates than other ratepayers) will again be left with thousands of tons of rotting trapped seagrass wrack throughout summer with no guarantees or attempts by the DoT that the situation will improve in the future.

"Time for a class action to be mounted and a withholding of city rates until our beach amenity is restored to similar conditions to other beaches of Busselton without loss."

Petition calls for government action

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam is set to hand a petition into Parliament next week requesting urgent action to rectify the unnatural accumulation of seagrass wrack trapped at the western beach at Port Geographe.

The petition states that residents were informed by the DoT that it would take four years from completion of the groyne to stabilise the area, but they were now entering into the sixth year.

It also states residents reported ill and adverse health conditions from the long term exposure to levels of H2S Hydrogen Sulphide being emitted by the rotting seagrass wrack.

So far the petition has garnered more than 300 signatures.

Ms Mettam said it is disappointing that it has taken requests for a public meeting, media coverage and a petition for the McGowan Government to finally respond to community concerns regarding the seagrass build up at Port Geographe.

"The response falls well short of providing any assurance that there is any commitment to a permanent or meaningful solution to the unnatural accumulation of seagrass wrack on the Western Beach," she said.

"It has now been six years since the former Governments commitment to the reconfiguration project and it was understood at that time that a natural equilibrium would be established by 2017.

"Clearly this is taking longer and the state government have a clear role in ensuring that this beach profile is maintained in accordance with other beaches in Busselton and across the state.

"These management of works are not a ratepayer responsibility, but a necessary responsibility of the state acknowledged by the previous Liberal National Governments investment in 2013 in the reconfiguration of the Groyne's, undertaken to address this issue in the first place."