Rally planned as tide turns on new Henley Beach sand

Truckloads of sand are being dumped at Henley Beach but locals fear an almost $5 million replenishment plan will fail to save the eroded metropolitan coastline, with a rally this weekend to call for a long-term fix.

Mar 29, 2023, updated Mar 29, 2023
Trucks are dumping sand onto Henley Beach but locals say it is already washing away. Photo: Save West Beach Sand/Facebook

Trucks are dumping sand onto Henley Beach but locals say it is already washing away. Photo: Save West Beach Sand/Facebook

Henley Surf Life Saving Club, local government leaders, residents and artist Andrew Baines are attending the Save Our Beaches rally at the surf club at 10am Sunday.

Charles Sturt Council ward councillor Kenzie van den Nieuwelaar said sand being delivered to Henley and West Beach was welcome but “we are tired of begging for every grain of sand”, with reports the new sand is washing away quickly as the coastline is “so degraded”.

“From what I understand Henley alone needs 200,000 cubic metres and we are getting 15,000 with another 50,000 at West Beach in May … it’s a mass discrepancy in the reality of what we need and what we are getting,” she said.

“Our beaches are so degraded that this (amount being delivered) is not enough to build them up, we need a mass amount to ensure the sand stays, the beaches are just so degraded they are not able to withstand the storms coming in winter.”

The State Government announced its sand replenishment plan after Henley Beach Surf Club members were forced to shovel sand around their ramp to ensure rescue vehicles can safely get onto the beach over summer.

Department of Environment and Water coastal management manager Murray Townsend said 10,000m3 of beach sand had been moved to Semaphore Park from Semaphore breakwater while another 15,000m3 of quarry sand was being delivered to Henley Beach and Henley Beach South at a cost of about $1.43 million.

An additional 50,000m3 of quarry sand will be dropped at West Beach starting on May 1, at a cost of approximately $3.52 million.

Henley club member and rally organiser Brad Gauvin said more long-term action was urgently needed “before it is too late”, adding that so much sand has washed away to northern beaches that surf life savers are struggling to “be able to safely and properly do our job”.

“The beach has been disappearing before our eyes and has been causing a real danger to people, property and the coastal environment,” Gauvin said.

“Just this last year we’ve lost another one metre of sand down to the old Henley pool foundations, clay and rock in places. “

He wants South Australians to join the rally to make a “collective statement and demand that the government takes the required action”.

This includes anyone who “wants to be able to go and enjoy our beaches now and the same for future generations. Everyone that respects the health & safety of our people and coastline.”

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Numerous access staircases were closed at Henley Beach last year as sand fell away to create a dangerous drop from bottom steps and walkers struggled to find beach access at high tide.

City of Charles Sturt field services staff removing exposed rock and shifting sand last month. Photo: Facebook

The State Government is conducting a 12-month Adelaide Beach Management Review that will be completed at the end of 2023 – overseen by the Attorney General after Deputy Premier Susan Close excused herself from the process.

Townsend said it was also conducting a comprehensive scientific review of all options available for managing Adelaide’s beaches.

It was a State Government election commitment to axe the former Liberal government plan to install an underground pipeline to move sand drift from the northern beaches back to Henley and West Beach.

Semaphore and Largs Bay beach residents have vowed to stage their own protest if that plan is reconsidered.

Townsend said “the target for delivery of sand over the past four days has been the lowest and narrowest section of beach, opposite Henley Beach Road. The small amount already delivered has noticeably raised the beach height.”

“The sand being delivered is spread by tides and waves onto the beach adjacent and into the near shore. This raises beach height and nourishes the sand bars that in-turn dissipate wave energy, protect the shoreline and act as a sand source for the beach.”

But Charles Sturt chief executive officer Paul Sutton also voiced concerns about the amount of sand being delivered to central Adelaide beaches, which lost around 115,000 cubic metres as it moved north each year.

“We need a sustainable solution to this urgent issue for our residents and community, visitors and most importantly for the health of our coast,” Sutton said.

“We would like to see a mass fill to re-establish a healthy beach profile and then a sustainable maintenance replenishment or recycling program to best address the sand movement.”

Australian Construction Surveys director John Dundon said the central beaches need sand nourishment to match the Danish Hydraulic Institute (DHI) accepted reported rate of drift, of 115,000m3 per year moving north.

“(Adding) 15,000m3 onto Henley South is only one seventh of matching that loss in drift. This volume fails to match the loss in drift. We aren’t even maintaining the degraded beach condition, it’s getting worse, year by failed year,” he said.

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