The West Beach Rock Wall was originally damaged during significant storms in May 2015, and deteriorated further during the May 2016 storms and tidal event. The City of Charles Sturt is taking responsibility for managing the rebuild of the wall, with the West Beach Rock Wall Project improving the safety of the West Beach Surf Life Saving Club and the damaged Coast Path. The Rock Wall project is divided into Northern, Central and Southern sections, with this year’s project rebuilding the Northern section and completing landscaping, lighting and path works to the Central section.
The West Beach Rock Wall Project - has a budget of $5.27million, with $4.02m funded by the City of Charles Sturt, and $1.25m funded through the Coast Protection Board.
Once complete, the project will ensure that the rock wall will withstand significant storm events and projected sea level rise and can act as a barrier and protector for the SLSC, Coast Path, road, car park and homes along Seaview Road for the design life of the wall.
Works will commence in October 2019 and will be complete in June 2020, subject to variations as a result of tidal activity or weather – the timeline to the right shows in detail what works will be carried out, and will be updated throughout the course of the project.
There are a number of priorities for the West Beach area. These priorities include rebuilding the West Beach Rock Wall, exploring solutions to sand management in discussion with the Coast Protection Board, the Coast Path that runs along the coast next to the rock wall, and the location of the West Beach Surf Life Saving Club, which is due for renewal. These priorities do impact each other, and the City of Charles Sturt has been liaising with all stakeholders to ensure sound outcomes are achieved.
The West Beach Rock Wall is an existing structure that has been damaged through storm events. This damage has caused instability of the wall, and surrounding beach access ramps and the Coast Path. It is imperative that the wall is rebuilt to ensure the existing damage can be fixed, and infrastructure is protected into the future.
It is acknowledged that the beach has become significantly depleted at West Beach and to that end the Council and West Beach Parks co-funded a study by Danish Hydraulics Institute (DHI) to investigate the causes and solutions. As a consequence of the Study, the State Government, through the Coast Protection Board, announced in September 2018 that it will fund $1million of sand carting, bringing sand from Semaphore beach back to West Beach.
West Beach Community Land Management Plan
The City of Charles Sturt has a number of Community Land Management Plans (CLMP), which are documents prepared in consultation with the community that provide direction about the use of Community Land.
These Management Plans enable Council to develop and manage land that it owns or is under its Care Control for use by the community. The vast majority of Community Plans relate to land used for open space and recreation purposes.
There is a CLMP specifically for West Beach that was created after consultation with key stakeholders and the wider community. This CLMP has taken into account previous work done by Council at the Coast Path at Tennyson, as well as legal decisions made in relation to the Coast Path at Tennyson.
As a council, we understand that there will be future studies of the West Beach area, and future recommendations about the environmental considerations of the rock wall, and sand management aimed at helping restore the beach. Due to the high risk of storm damage to the surf club, the danger to people using the damaged path and the need to return access to the beach via the staircases near the rock wall, the City of Charles Sturt’s priority is to rebuild the rock wall.
Therefore, as part of the consultation for the CLMP - West Beach, we sought legal advice about our processes and the content of the plan itself. We are confident that the CLMP addresses the key elements from Supreme Court decision about the Tennyson Coast Path. You can read about the West Beach CLMP in a recent report to Council.
The City of Charles Sturt recognises that there a number of key stakeholders and the wider community interested in the West Beach CLMP and the rebuilding of the West Beach Rock Wall.
Rebuilding the Wall
The West Beach Rock Wall rebuild is made up of a number of different elements broadly described as follows:
- The existing rock wall is stripped back, retaining those rocks that are suitable for reuse, and disposing of the others. The underlying sand dune is then reshaped.
- Next a geo-fabric is installed to protect the dune. A 'filter medium is installed on top of the fabric, which allows the water from the waves to flow back to the beach.
- Together with the salvaged rocks, there is around 16,000 tonnes of new rock imported from a local quarry. These rocks have very specific size, shape, weight and material make up requirements to ensure they all act as designed.
- On top of the filter layer is the secondary armour. These are rocks generally 300-500mm in diameter. These help dissipate the wave energy to prevent damage to the dune.
- Finally on the outside are the larger rocks, weighing between 3 and 6 tonnes each. These take the brunt of the force from waves and storm events.
The contractors appointed to undertake the works anticipated progressively working from north to south and completing approximately 50 metres of wall every six weeks.
Renewing West Beach Road
The City of Charles Sturt is also leading work along West Beach Road. The new road layout will help to improve safety for all users of this important road, which provides access to tourism and sporting venues and events in the West Beach Precinct. This work began in October 2018 and will be complete in November 2019. Both projects are running concurrently.
West Beach Sand Erosion
The beach, sand dunes and assets at West Beach are under significant pressure due to large scale sand erosion particularly in the Adelaide Shores Caravan Park to Henley South region.
The sand dunes and the beach itself is the responsibility, care and control of the State Government. Responsibility for the rock wall was transferred to council some time ago, in addition the shared use coast path is an asset that the City of Charles Sturt is responsible for.
The State Government through the Department of Environment and Water (DEW) and the Coastal Protection Board (CPB) in conjunction with the City of Charles Sturt has been working to monitor and manage sand erosion and ensure dune protection at West Beach.
It has been widely acknowledged at the that the beach has become significantly depleted at West Beach.
The City of Charles Sturt and West Beach Parks with DEW co-funded a study by Danish Hydraulics Institute (DHI) to investigate the causes and solutions. The results were shared with a range of community stakeholders and the State Government through the CPB. The study suggested around 1.5million cubic meters of sand was required to replenish West Beach (Cell 3).
As a result, in September 2018 the State committed to fund $1million of sand carting, transferring sand from Semaphore beach to West Beach. This resulted just prior to Christmas with the CPB trucking 50,000 m3 of sand from Semaphore South to the sand dunes at West Beach. Since that time there has been further erosion of the dune at West Beach and Henley Beach South, with the CPB’s sand pumps in the dune north of the West Beach Surf Lifesaving club becoming exposed.
The CPB have planned to undertake further sand carting and dune replenishment for West Beach and Henley Beach South in March 2019 (reducing the risk to the public with the amount of people using the beach in February).
Our City of Charles Sturt Beach Maintenance teams have been monitoring the situation and have continued to report that the CPB’s 80m3 buffer has not been able to be maintained effectively in the West Beach dunes, which has led to the current situation where the DEW sand pumping pipelines are significantly exposed and placing stress on that infrastructure. The stone wall separating the top of the dunes and the path is now very close to a critical state of undermining and if further erosion occurs collapse. We know that further wind or wave action will continue to undermine the dunes, leaving these assets exposed to imminent and substantial failure. We are extremely concerned with the sand movement during the calmer season; the summer weather is not known to be as challenging as the wind and wave movement experienced during the winter period.
The City of Charles Sturt is committed to protecting not only our assets, but also our coastal environment. Our focus is on caring for, and advocating for, the future of our beaches not only in the short term but for generations to come.
We will continue to work with the State Government and will monitor West Beach and share this information with the DEW and CPB. We will also continue to advocate for our community’s concerns and reflect our shared desire for a full future strategy to protect the beach, the dunes, and our coastline.