Plans for sand study supported by community group
Plans by Central Coast Council to complete a sand movement study at Ocean Beach have been supported by Umina Community Group spokesperson Mr Tony Winch.
The Council has applied for a grant from the Office of Environment and Heritage to complete the study.
"The idea of that study is to give a more detailed piece of evidence for the beach so the study is available to anyone offering future solutions and about how we can best accelerate the restoration of the beach," Mr Winch said.
"It is obviously an issue for the public because they want to access the beach as easily as they can and that is not possible at the moment.
"The beach will eventually restore itself and allow access again," he said.
Mr Winch said his belief that the beach would "restore itself" was based on his understanding of the Coastal Zone Management Plan that was signed off by NSW Minister for the Environment, Ms Gabrielle Upton, in mid-2017.
"The Coastal Zone Management Plan involved a lot of study of the beach and what is happening to it and it came to the conclusion that the beach is a growing beach so it is not a long-term recession," Mr Winch said.
He said the ongoing lack of public walkways to the beachfront east of the Ocean Beach Surf Life Saving Club to Ettalong Point would not be permanent.
"The most recent conversation I have had with Central Coast Council is not that they have gone for good.
"There is no immediate resolution about what to do about them but there is a large cliff face there at the moment so to build another structure, such as steps, is just going to attract the same damage," Mr Winch said.
Mr Winch said it was two years since the enormous sandbag wall was built at Ettalong Point and it was achieving the results expected.
"The sandbags were seven deep and now you can only see two, it shows the process does happen, the beach does repair, but it is a slow process," he said.
The "immediate and future risk of erosion to the dunes; public safety due to steep erosion escarpments; windblown dune erosion and dune ecology" were the first hazard or issue listed to be addressed in the Coastal Zone Management Plan for the area east of Ocean Beach Surf Club to Ettalong Point.
The Plan lists seven "management actions" to implement to address the risk.
The first is to monitor storm run up levels and dune erosion by making visual observations during storm events and using survey marks of the debris line and, according to the Plan, the observations are the responsibility of Council and the Surf Life Saving Club.
Council is to pay for this ongoing work within its existing budget allocations.
The next management action listed is repair of beach access ways and revegetation of the dune following erosion in large storm events.
Dune management is to be undertaken "as per standard dune management practice in accordance with a 2001 Coastal Dune Management Manual.
The plan also said "consolidation of beach access ways along Umina Beach" should be considered.
The work is the responsibility of Council and Dunecare and the cost is within budget allocations with funding to come from Council, State and Federal Government.
According to the Coastal Zone Management Plan, "beach scraping" is to be undertaken "following storm events to build the dune crest level and revegetation".
This involves pushing sand from the beach berm to the toe of the dune escarpment.
Council is supposed to complete the work "after storm events as required" and, again, according to the plan, funding was within budget allocations.
Within the Coastal Zone Management Plan, Central Coast Council is responsible for collapsing the steep eroded escarpment and revegetation following erosion events.
The severely eroded section of the beach between the surf club and Ettalong point has been fenced off for over a year but an excavator has not been used to collapse the dune escarpment and no revegetation has been undertaken in accordance with the techniques of the Coastal Dune Management Manual.
The Coastal Zone Management Plan also identified the need for immediate scraping of sand along the beach from areas with an excess of sand as an interim measure but this work does not appear to have been undertaken.
Investigations and approvals were to be completed in Year 1 of the plan, understood to have been 2017-18 with works to follow immediately after in combination with dune management activities.
The Plan required $50,000 for interim works another $50,000 for investigation and approval and $350,000 a year as a recurrent cost depending on the method of nourishment.
Interview, 10 Jan 2018
Tony Winch, Umina Community Group
Gosford Beaches Coastal Zone Management Plan, 3 Apr 2017
Reporter: Jackie Pearson