Gold Coast Beach Nourishment Project

Ensuring our beaches are clean, healthy, safe and accessible now and into the future.

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Gold Coast Beach Nourishment Project

Click to enlargeFinal Day of nourishment – 28 September 2017 – Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise

Final day of nourishment 28 September
2017 – Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise.

City of Gold Coast delivered a major beach nourishment project from June to October 2017. The Gold Coast Beach Nourishment Project (GCBNP) increased the volume of sand available along vulnerable sections of our coastline to buffer against future storms and coastal erosion.

The GCBNP is part of the Ocean Beaches Strategy 2013-23, ensuring our beaches are clean, healthy, safe and accessible now and into the future. It will also ensure that our beaches will be in the best possible condition for the 2018 Commonwealth Games™.

Find answers to frequently asked questions about our beach nourishment project below.

Beach nourishment progress by suburb

Total percentage of sand delivered: 100 per cent as of  October 2017.

Surfers Paradise

Nourishment update at Surfers Paradise (Southern Narrowneck carpark to First Avenue)

Sand nourishment is 100 per cent complete as of October 2017. The increased volume of sand along this section of coastline is 566,842 cubic metres.

Broadbeach

Nourishment update at Broadbeach (Wharf Road to Ventura Road)

Sand nourishment is 100 per cent complete as of October 2017. The increased volume of sand along this section of coastline is 486,595 cubic metres.

Mermaid Beach

Nourishment update at Mermaid Beach (Cronulla Avenue to Chairlift Avenue East)

Sand nourishment is 100 per cent complete as of October 2017. The increased volume of sand along this section of coastline is 564,491 cubic metres.

Miami Beach

Nourishment update at Miami Beach (Chairlift Avenue East to Sixth Avenue)

Sand nourishment is 100 per cent complete as of October 2017. The increased volume of sand along this section of coastline is 939,002 cubic metres.

Palm Beach

Nourishment update at Palm Beach (Nineteenth Avenue to southern end of Palm Beach)

Sand nourishment is 100 per cent complete as of October 2017. The increased volume of sand along this section of coastline is 469,828 cubic metres.

Find out the latest information on the Palm Beach Shoreline Project.


Project update – 25 October 2017

An international dredging and beach nourishment tender was advertised from October to November 2016. The contract was awarded to RN Dredging Pty Ltd in March 2017.

The beach nourishment works have now been completed with the final day of works being Thursday 28 September, 2017.

The total amount of sand delivered during the beach nourishment project was 3,026,758 cubic metres.

Over time, the sand will move with the coast’s natural processes, adding extra sand to our beaches and protecting one of our City’s biggest assets from future coastal hazards.

The City will continue to monitor the movement of sand along our coastline to ensure our beaches are clean, healthy, safe and accessible now and into the future.

Click to enlargeGold Coast Beach Nourishment Project – Sand placement overview.

Gold Coast Beach Nourishment Project – Sand placement overview.

 

Beach nourishment history

The Gold Coast beaches have endured a number of significant storm events in recorded history which have often resulted in serious coastal erosion. Analysis of 40 years of historical monitoring data has concluded that this vulnerability to erosion and storm damage will not be mitigated through natural sand movement alone.

Beach nourishment projects have been undertaken on the Gold Coast since the 1960s. They are designed to mimic natural coastal processes and allow sand to shift continuously in response to changing waves and water levels.

Nourishment locations

Identified locations for beach nourishment as part of the GCBNP are Palm Beach and along northern Gold Coast beaches from Miami to Main Beach.

Click to enlarge
Gold Coast beach nourishment project - Palm Beach

GCBNP Palm Beach

Gold Coast beach nourishment project - Miami to Main Beach

GCBNP Miami to Main Beach

Project aims

The objective of the Gold Coast Beach Nourishment Project is to provide a cost effective, innovative, environmentally and socially acceptable solution to maintain a suitable beach width to buffer future erosion impact. The project aims to:

  • reduce the vulnerability of the beach and beachfront development to storm damage
  • protect, and if practical enhance the beach amenity for the community
  • provide a sustainable, cost-effective solution
  • avoid or mitigate adverse environmental and social impacts.

Project method

Survey vessel

Numerous studies have informed the project design, such as the study of coastal data captured through wave buoys, beach surveys, camera monitoring and computer modelling.

A survey vessel (pictured) will be working at Palm Beach and from Miami to Main Beach from April to October. This vessel will be surveying the level of the sea bed and monitoring the sand placed by the dredge as the project progresses.

A ‘design with nature’ approach is being taken to deliver the Gold Coast Beach Nourishment Project. The solution involves a specialised dredge vessel transferring sand from our offshore sand reserves and placing it around the nearshore wave breaking zone.

The sand will be collected from our offshore sand reserves and distributed around the wave breaking zone by bottom dumping and rainbowing. Bottom dumping is where the collected sand is deposited to the wave breaking zone through the vessel hull. Rainbowing is where the sand is projected from the bow of the vessel to the wave breaking zone as a sand/water mixture.

Post sand placement

The additional sand that is deposited around the wave breaking zone will not be placed directly on the dry beach. This sand will move with the coast’s natural processes over time, adding extra sand supply to our beaches and acting as a natural buffer during storms.

This nearshore beach nourishment technique has a proven successful history on Gold Coast beaches.

Stakeholder engagement

A comprehensive stakeholder engagement plan continues to be delivered as part of this project. A number of stakeholder meetings have taken place with key stakeholders including a selection of community group leaders who have represented their members. The meetings have provided an opportunity for stakeholders to ask questions and for the project team to respond to, and address any issues while informing stakeholders about the need for the project and method of delivery.

Evan Thomas
President Miami Beach Surf Life Saving Club

"I am OK with the project. It is well planned and will provide added protection to the City's ocean beaches.

The meeting was very useful for the clubs to learn about the project and potential impacts and advice needed to provide to members to ensure safety. In addition the project as we were able to provide advice to the team on the best person to contact to ensure communications with clubs is rapid when required. We also identified key dates and activities that will be occurring during the project that will need to be managed."


James Brooks
President Mermaid Nobbys Miami Boardriders Club Inc

"I feel encouraged by the prospect of having additional good quality sandbanks which will provide better quality waves. Understanding that the initial purpose of the nourishment program is geared towards foreshore stabilisation/protection but are all hopeful of a win-win.

As far as the entire nourishment program is concerned we are all hopeful of achieving the projected outcomes. However, there is a collective of members who display strong scepticism regarding the power of the ocean and its ability to undo what has been put in place.

All members have been encouraged to access the web site as to get a better understanding of the project."

More information

For more information on the Gold Coast Beach Nourishment Project, download the fact sheet (PDF 240kb), or email: beachnourishment@goldcoast.qld.gov.au

Beach Nourishment - Before

Narrowneck (1998), low tide - before nourishment works

Beach Nourishment - After

After nourishment works

Gold Coast Beach Nourishment Project - footage courtesy of Nine Gold Coast News

Jump to key information
  • What is beach nourishment?

    Beach nourishment (also referred to as beach replenishment) is the process by which sand is added to the beach from other locations. The sand acts as a buffer that provides protection from coastal erosion during weather events.

  • How long will the dredge be operating on the Gold Coast?

    The dredge was operating from 16 June 2017 until October 2017.

  • How much is the City spending on beach nourishment?

    The City is committed to ensuring our beach amenity is maintained and that our infrastructure is protected from coastal hazards. The City has invested $13.9 million dollars to undertake these nourishment works using a specialist beach nourishment contractor.

  • What does the beach nourishment project involve?

    The project involved offshore dredging by a specialised vessel. The vessel took approximately three million cubic metres of clean sand from our offshore sand reserve closer to the shoreline in order to restore, protect and widen the beach. The nourishment will provide enhanced beach amenity for the Gold Coast community, and increase shoreline protection to withstand high energy weather events.

  • What is sand rainbowing?

    Sand rainbowing is where a sand/water mixture is projected from the bow of the vessel and placed close to the wave breaking zone.

  • How will I be impacted by this project?

    The vessel operated 24 hours a day for about 16 weeks and will nourish our most vulnerable beaches. This had minimal impact on beach users. Ocean users were prohibited from going near the dredge and associated works for safety reasons.

  • Is this method safe for marine wildlife?

    The project has been assessed by federal and state governmental agencies to make sure it meets strict environmental approval requirements under the environmental legislation. This includes assessment under the Environmental Protections and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to ensure the activity is safe for marine wildlife, and the Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995 to ensure that the work will not negatively impact our coastal environment.

  • Was water quality affected by this project?

    This activity did not affect the water quality; however there were localised, temporary changes in water clarity where the sand was being placed. These changes are typically less noticeable than those seen during large rainfall or swell events.

  • Where will the sand be placed?

    Sand was placed in two locations:

    1. Sand was placed in shallow areas around the wave breaking zone. This type of nourishment will have an immediate effect on beach widening, and will have the greatest influence on surfing amenity. Sand was placed in patterns to replicate natural rhythmic sand bar formations, which are known to improve surfing opportunities.

    2. Sand was placed further offshore in deeper areas. This nourishment will move more slowly with natural processes, and provide a long-term benefit for coastal protection by increasing the total volume of sand along the coastline.

  • How long will it take for the sand to move around (response cycle)?

    Generally, sand moves at different rates depending on where it is in the beach profile (above and below the surf zone). The sand deposited around the wave breaking zone is expected to move onshore within weeks, whereas the sand deposited offshore in deeper areas could take months or years.

  • How does this project link to the Gold Coast Surf Management Plan?

    As part of the planning and design phase for the nourishment works, the City has investigated how sand can be placed to mimic natural sand bar formations known to promote good surfing conditions. The placement of sand by the contractor uses patterns that mimic these natural sand bars.

  • How much sand will be placed each week and where?

    The amount of sand placed each week was dependent upon weather conditions. It is estimated that 200,000 to 300,000 cubic metres was deposited each week.

  • What impacts/benefits will the sand provide long term?

    The sand will provide the beach with long-term protection from storm events.

  • Are there safety issues for ocean users while the works are undertaken?

    The dredge operated under local laws and regulations which include safety requirements. The project worked to a safety management plan which addressed safety risks. All ocean users were urged to stay away from the dredge at all times.

  • What is the effect on boat users?

    There was a large dredge vessel operating in compliance with maritime safety laws within Queensland. Boat users were urged to stay well away from the dredge for safety reasons.

  • What are the impacts for sharks and marine life when there’s turbid water?

    Turbidity is temporary and short term. Comparatively, the dredge will produce far less turbidity than you see after rain events or prolonged northerly wave conditions.

  • Will rips and currents form as a result of operation?

    The sand placement will replicate natural sand bar formations - it will not create excessive rips or currents.

  • What processes and procedures are in place for whales?

    The project was undertaken in adherence to strict environmental protocols and stringent approval processes have been met. Management procedures for whales were in place and the dredging contractor complied with the Australian National Guidelines for Whale and Dolphin Watching 2005.  

  • What happens if a whale is sighted?

    The dredge master was responsible for maintaining an appropriate buffer zone with respect to marine fauna. The white whale, Migaloo, was tracked through regular communication with the White Whale Research Centre and dredging was to cease when Migaloo was within one kilometre of the vessel. 

  • Are there any dedicated crews watching out for whales?

    A fauna 'watch keeping' reporting system was in operation, obliging all crew members to report marine mammal observations for the duration of the project. All crew members were trained by a marine biologist on the detailed and various species of marine mammals known to enter Gold Coast waters and how to report observations thoroughly.

    The various expected behaviours of each marine mammal were also specified. Further to this, there were two dedicated officers on the vessel who maintained 24/7 'watch keeping' from an elevated section of the dredge. In order to maintain the awareness and familiarity of the various species to be expected in the waters around the work area, pictures of the species and pictures of the various species behaviours were posted in the mess on-board the dredge. 

  • Why is the project being undertaken in whale season?

    The reason this project was being undertaken from June to October is that wave conditions are milder during this period than during summer and autumn. This meant that the dredge could work safely, subject to fewer weather delays. 

  • Will the sand wash away in the next storm?

    Sand naturally moves from the shallow areas of the beach into deeper water during storm events. This sand is not lost, and slowly moves back to the top of the beach under calmer conditions. The sand nourishment will provide additional sand that will move in the same way under this natural process. This sand will increase our buffer against future storm events. 

  • Why not let 'Mother Nature' take control?

    The historical pattern of development in the City has resulted in buildings and infrastructure being located within the area of the coastline that naturally experiences coastal erosion. If 'Mother Nature' was to do its thing, erosion of the beach would not only threaten out coastal development, but also mean that we simply wouldn't have a wide, usable beach. Ongoing coastal protection works are required to be undertaken (such as beach nourishment), to ensure there is a sandy beach – the very icon of the Gold Coast – into the future.

  • Is this project value for money?

    Most taxpayers who live on the Gold Coast value their beaches. Our beaches are at the core of our lifestyle and economy and the City attracts 12 million tourists each year.

    By ensuring our beaches are protected from future storm events by nourishing them with sand, ensures that our city stays in the condition it is known for. Investing in our biggest asset, our beaches, is an investment into our city's future.

  • Why does the sand being projected from the dredge (rainbowed) look dark in colour?

    The sand that was rainbowed may have looked dark in colour, but was clean , wet sand that had been underwater for hundreds if not thousands of years. Once exposed to sunlight and weather, the colour naturally changes to what we currently see on our beaches.

    The City has undertaken extensive sediment testing for the offshore areas which will provide sand for nourishment. This information shows that the sand is clean and suitable for use on the beach.

  • What evidence is there that this project will work?

    The Gold Coast beaches have endured a number of significant storm events in recorded history which have often resulted in serious coastal erosion. Analysis of 40 years of historical monitoring data has concluded that this vulnerability to erosion and storm damage will not be mitigated through natural sand movement alone.

    Beach nourishment projects have been undertaken on the Gold Coast since the 1960s. They are designed to mimic natural coastal processes and allow sand to shift continuously in response to changing waves and water levels.  

  • Does this project have anything to do with the proposed cruise ship terminal?

    This beach nourishment project has no affiliation with the proposed Cruise Ship Terminal. Sand Nourishment did not take place north of Narrowneck.

  • How will the project affect the benthic environment?

    During the project planning, approval and execution stages it was established that the Palm Beach Reef and the Mermaid Reef support a diverse benthic environment and are of highest ecological value along the project area. Approvals were granted for borrowing sand and placing sand only in areas located at a safe distance from these reefs. During the execution stage the City was monitoring water quality at the sensitive receptors (including of turbidity, suspended sediment, pH, etc.), particularly when dredging occurred up-current of the reefs to assess the project compliance with the water quality objectives outlined in the permits. This was in line with the project's Environmental Management Plan (EMP). You may have noticed the Environmental specialist survey vessel working alongside the dredge vessel undertaking monitoring. Environmental monitoring shows that the project met the environmental conditions outlined in the environmental approval.

  • How will the sand placement affect the natural reef at Mermaid Beach?

    Sand nourishment was only placed in and around the surf zone. This will ensure that sand moves along the coast with natural processes and does not move onto the natural reef system at Mermaid Beach. The total quantity of sand has been designed to work with the natural sand transport system at Mermaid Beach and not overfill the nearshore, which could result in excessive sand movement toward natural reef systems. The City will be undertaking ongoing monitoring to ensure that sand placement remains in the natural sand transport system.

  • Will sand placement affect water quality and marine life on the natural reef at Mermaid Beach?

    The City worked with Federal and State approval agencies to develop stringent environmental controls for the works. The Environmental Management Plan for the works include ongoing water quality and sediment testing, as well as analysis to ensure that the works did not negatively impact water quality and marine life. Changes in water clarity during the works were temporary in nature, and were significantly less than natural changes seen during rainfall events and periods of large swell.

  • Will the sand be toxic to marine life?

    The City has undertaken extensive sediment testing for the offshore areas which will provide sand for nourishment. This information shows that the sand is clean and suitable for use on our beaches. The sediment testing also formed part of State agency approval requirements and results were used to develop the Environmental Management Plan for the works.

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