Local Concern Over Sand Removal Effectiveness

Beaches north of Coffs erode because of interrupted sand movement. Photo: Scott Wolgamot.

JIM Munro has spent 50 years at sea, 30 of them dredging in harbours in Australia, the Middle East and Asia.

He told News Of The Area that back in 1995, when he was dredging at Tweed Heads, it was well known that sand flows on the east coast always move north.

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Jim says this has resulted in sand being gradually pushed into Coffs Harbour to reduce its depth from 15m to the current depth of around 8m.

City of Coffs Harbour Councillor Scott Wolgamot is also concerned about current sand removal from the harbour.

Speaking in his capacity as a private citizen, he cited studies that indicate that the combinations of the breakwalls and sand drift have led to not only the harbour filling with sand but also erosion at beaches in the vicinity.

Mr Wolgamot believes current practices are ineffective and, even if they remove sand from the harbour, erosion of nearby beaches will still occur.

He said that successful dredging, 21 years ago, used a large hopper dredge that took the sand from the sea bed and transported it to the northern end of Park Beach where it was dumped onto the sea bed at the back of the surf zone.

“We need to recreate the natural movement of sand that would happen if the breakwalls weren’t there,” Mr Wolgamot said.

He said this needs to be done regularly, not every 21 years.

Another long-term solution suggested by Mr Wolgamot, is to permanently install a pipeline underground and pump the sand slurry along the foreshore onto Park Beach.

Both Mr Munro and Mr Wolgamot, along with many other locals, are concerned that the use of the harbour has already been reduced from hosting vessels such as the Britannia and submarines in the past and might soon be unsuitable for commercial fishing vessels.

Both men are urging the State Government to listen to locals and scientists to devise an effective solution before further damage is done.

By Andrew VIVIAN

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