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Sandsational idea? Nearshore nourishment technique to be trialled

The technique in action on the Gold Coast. A different ship, the TSHD Brisbane, will operate on the Sunshine Coast.

Posted on November 16, 2022

A sand replenishment technique, that has not been seen on the Sunshine Coast for some time, is set to be trialled in an effort to shore up support for the region’s beaches.

The nearshore nourishment project will involve importing sand from Moreton Bay and placing it in the water, about 300m off Maroochydore Beach, from November 16-24.

It’s expected that waves, currents and tides will then deposit the sand onto the beaches, providing an additional buffer against future storms and coastal erosion.

A dredge will collect sand from the Spitfire Channel and transport it to Maroochydore Beach for release, potentially using two methods.

One technique may include dropping the sand from the bottom of the barge and the other will spray the sand in a rainbow shape into the water. The results of both methods will be compared.

Strict safety measures will be in place on the beach and in the water during the trial for everyone’s protection. Visitors to the area are asked to follow council and lifeguard instructions.

Sunshine Coast Council’s Environment Portfolio Councillor Peter Cox said the Coastal Hazard Adaptation Strategy guided council’s work to manage our region’s beaches from the risk of future coastal erosion.

“A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes over several years to inform the long-term management of our coastline,” Cr Cox said.

“We are using coastal data captured through wave buoys, beach surveys, hydrographic surveys, ecological monitoring, and wind data to shape the project.

“This is in addition to studies that have shown there is a limited supply of sand on the Sunshine Coast.”

A battered Maroochydore Beach in 2021.

Cr Cox said Maroochydore Beach had been subject to significant erosion events over the years and adding new sand from outside the region, such as the Spitfire Channel in Moreton Bay, could help nourish the area and protect it from further erosion.

“The trial will supplement the existing sand renourishment program that involves collecting sand from the Maroochy River and pumping it onto the beach,” Cr Cox said.

“Trialling the technique will assist us to make evidence-based decisions about the future management of our coastline.

“The trial will provide critical evidence to support our understanding of how this technique works here on the Sunshine Coast.”

The technique has not been used on the Sunshine Coast in some time.

One SCN reader told this publication that the technique was used at Kings Beach in 1988 and also near Noosa National Park during the same year.

But it’s a well-established method and it has proved successful on the Australian east coast, including at the Gold Coast.

“We expect the trial will show that additional sand placed in the nearshore area, close to the sand bar, will naturally migrate to the shoreline over time,” Cr Cox said.

“This will confirm the effectiveness of this well-established methodology to enable us to use it in the future if we need to.”

Maroochydore Beach, south of the Maroochy River entrance.

Surf amenity will be a consideration throughout the trial.

Council has established a technical advisory group to act on behalf of the community and contribute to the project.

Members include Sunshine Coast Council officers and councillors, Queensland Government representatives, Surf Lifesaving Queensland, Queensland Police Service and expert engineering consultants.

All necessary environmental approvals are being progressed for the trial to be conducted.

For answers to frequently asked questions about the trial, visit council’s website and search for ”Maroochydore nearshore beach nourishment trial”.


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