Shoreline clean-up program

The EPA’s Shoreline Clean-up Program continues to remove flood debris from our waterways, beaches and the shorelines of our rivers.

The Shoreline Clean-up Program removes flood debris from waterways and shorelines in disaster declared areas. The debris is identified through a number of sources including aerial surveillance, patrols by boat, reports from the community, agencies including councils and other stakeholders.

The Program was developed in response to the March 2021 floods and has been expanded to respond to the flood events of 2022.

The Program is being led by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to help communities, councils and our environment recover by removing man-made and hazardous natural flood debris from our rivers, estuaries, and adjacent coastlines. The Program is funded under the joint Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

What debris is not eligible?

The clean-up of flood debris located on private land is not funded under this program.

If you are in a Disaster-Declared area your local council is the first contact point for assistance or information on what other assistance is available.

How does it work?

The NSW EPA has appointed AVCON Australasia and Northern Rivers Marine Services to deliver these clean-up services.

Flood debris is being removed from shorelines using boats and barges. The debris is unloaded straight on to trucks for disposal or taken to a staging area. Beaches are typically cleaned through manual hand-picking and accessed by foot, 4WD or jet ski.

Fenced waste staging areas are being used in some areas as part of the clean-up program to temporarily and safely store debris that is collected before it is taken for recycling or disposal. Safety is a primary focus of the program.

Benefits of the program

  • Cleaning up man-made flood debris on public land which is a risk to the environment and community safety.
    Removing some of the natural debris, often submerged under the waterline, reduces the safety risk to those using the water.
    Debris collected will be separated into waste types to allow for recycling or re-use and diversion from landfills where possible.
    Any hazardous waste will be assessed and removed by qualified experts.
    Clean up focuses on debris that is safe to remove and does not result in additional environmental harm, especially on culturally sensitive sites.

What has been achieved so far?

As of December 2022, from flood events this year, EPA contractors have removed large amounts of man-made and green waste, including:

  • over 16,200m3 from beaches and rivers in the Hawksbury, Central Coast, Penrith, Georges River, Sutherland and Shoalhaven LGAs.
  • over 5,700m3 from beaches and rivers in the Tweed, Byron, Lismore, Richmond Valley, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Nambucca and Kempsey LGAs.

To put that in perspective, that is enough waste to fill more than 8 Olympic swimming pools!

Our contractors have dealt with all kinds of waste, including boats, caravans, water tanks, chemical drums, gas bottles, tyres, hay bales, and even huge shipping containers.

What is happening next?

In response to further severe flooding occurring throughout 2022 in Sydney and other areas of the NSW coast, clean-up works will need to continue. Crews are likely to be working in the Hawksbury River, Central Coast beaches and Hunter region for the rest of the year. Due to the scale of impacts on the Hawkesbury, works will be continuing until early 2023. Shoreline clean-up works are expected to be complete south of Sydney in December 2022.

In Northern NSW the clean-up has been finalised in the Tweed, Byron and Clarence Valley local government areas (LGAs). Works have been completed in Lismore, Richmond Valley, Bellingen, Nambucca and Kempsey LGAs with final inspections and termination meetings to occur in early 2023.

Contractors will be working in the Mid-Coast and Port Macquarie-Hastings LGAs in December.

The EPA will be running a maintenance program for up to 6 months in 2023 to manage any debris which may appear following the initial clean-up.