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Byron Shire
February 28, 2021

Dredging for beaches

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Warwick Anderson, Suffolk Park

Changes in inshore currents, more water, high tides and rough seas have had a damaging effect on some of our beaches. Beaches have been scoured out, up and down the east coast. The northern sides of points, especially in the corners like at Clarkes Beach or Broken Head have really copped it. The foredunes and trees on them have been washed into the sea. It’s a complicated thing involving many variables.

When they decided to dredge sand from the Tweed Bar and drop it below Pt Danger, it drifted around to Snapper and onwards creating the Super Bank as a by-product! Those beaches are quite stable now after years of adjusting the amounts of sand being pumped according to the conditions. I’m not going to suggest we do anything on that scale!

Our beaches are beautiful and valuable assets and there’s a lot of valuable infrastructure and businesses affected by the beach erosion as well. Surely it’s ridiculous for us just let it all go! Rock walls, sandbag walls, and erosion control structures spoil beaches and often have a deleterious effect on other beaches further along.

I’m suggesting a small-scale experimental dredging operation. It’s possible to drill a pipeline from the cliff base of the Cape below the lighthouse and run it to Wategos. Sand dredged a little way out from the Cape could be pumped to the outlet at Wategos. If this was done sensitively and turned off when not needed, we could stabilise our beaches and we may even see the turtles who used to nest here return again.

Some folk may object because the little inner reefs would be covered with sand, but if the sand pumping wasn’t overdone it should be possible to get these beaches back to normal – as they were when I was a kid. Food for thought anyway.

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