You might remember our article early this year thanking DuneCare for creating a healthy fore dune. The article also raised the concern that “..we are worried that the fore dunes that have been built up might be taken by a big storm and then it takes us 6 months to organise a beach scraping project (to repair it) – and there could be another storm in that time which could seriously damage the main dune.”
Well those two storms in June brought this fear very much to the fore as the fore dune lost about half its sand and the foot of the main dune was exposed in several places. As that article foreshadowed “..Based on very experienced independent advice, the CCPA steering committee has begun the next step of working with the Council to have a beach scraping plan pre-approved and pre-funded so as to be ready when it’s needed to quickly repair the fore dune.”
CCPA’s success in proactively working with Council to develop the CZMP (which includes scraping) provided an encouraging basis for this discussion.
But on the other hand, CCPA has been unsuccessfully promoting beach scraping (also known as Nature Assisted Beach Enhancement ) as a practical measure to mitigate risks at Wooli for a number of years.
The four barriers to NABE raised during these promotions are listed below, each followed by the independent –expert advice that CCPA has received.
- Using NABE would weaken the CZMP case with State Depts. for using beach nourishment
NABE is a short term management technique to overcome erosion which can occur when multiple storms occur in a relatively short period. It is not in competition with beach nourishment and in fact is often used in conjunction with beach nourishment, as well as on its own.
- There is insufficient evidence/studies proving the value of NABE
This is incorrect. There are many papers available demonstrating the value of beach scraping, some of which are summarised in the 2016 NSW Conference papers. The Engineers Australia 2013 Conference also had an extended seminar on the topic with a very large list of references.
- Wooli beach is a net-loser of sand so the scraped sand would not be replaced
This is again incorrect. Whether a beach is or is not a net loser of sand it is where that sand is stored on the beach that is critical from the point of view of limiting main dune erosion. If some of the sand is stored in beach-scraped dunes then they form a buffer which can absorb some or all of the erosion before the main dune is exposed to direct attack. New Brighton is a classic example of this.
- There are no funds available, even for a Pilot study, even if CCPA largely funded it
Even if CCPA pays there are no funds ? The logic eludes me. Besides, State grant funds are made available for community and council projects.
Unfortunately, our recent discussion with Council was only successful in identifying a fifth barrier, which is
- that NABE is included in the CZMP and so can’t be used until the CZMP is approved by the Minister. Until then, NABE was considered to be outside the official CZMP process.
Many councils have been successfully using NABE for many decades without the need for a certified CZMP and so councils shouldn’t use the absence of a certified CZMP as an excuse for not undertaking NABE.
In the absence of community-led NABE , the official approach is firstly to encourage DuneCare to rebuild the fore dune (which of course they are) and secondly to wait until the CZMP process is complete. Optimistically this would mean NABE could not proceed until at least 2018 which is the earliest time in which the CZMP foresees the beach needing sand renourishment. The underpinning assumptions here are that the main dune survives this summer’s cyclone season (forecast to be worse than usual) as well as the 2017 winter storms.
The possible ray of sunshine is a rumour that the Minister may include his support for NABE in his presentation at November’s NSW Coastal Conference. Armed with that, CCPA will be approaching not only Council Officers but also our elected Councillors urging them to get behind the urgent repair work needed on Wooli’s dunes.