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Palm Beach Shoreline Project

A sustainable solution for the ongoing protection of the Palm Beach foreshore. Phase 1 is beach nourishment. Phase 2 envisions an artificial reef in 2019.

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Palm Beach Shoreline Project

Click to enlargePalm Beach Shoreline

Looking south towards Palm Beach during
June 2016 swell event.

History has shown that Palm Beach is highly susceptible to serious beach erosion compared to other Gold Coast beaches.

As part of the Ocean Beaches Strategy 2013–2023, the City of Gold Coast is undertaking the Palm Beach Shoreline Project – a holistic plan to provide a sustainable solution for the ongoing protection of the beach and beachfront infrastructure.

See our frequently asked questions and fact sheet to find out more about the Palm Beach Shoreline Project.

The project will be rolled out in two phases. Phase 1: beach nourishment 2017 and Phase 2: artificial reef 2019.

Developing the project solution

The City monitors Gold Coast beaches through seabed surveys and coastal imagery analysis. Historic survey results show that Palm Beach is the most vulnerable to erosion during large storms.

The work completed on the project to date shows that beach nourishment stabilised by an artificial reef is the best long-term solution for Palm Beach. The further development of this coastal protection solution was endorsed by Council of the City of Gold Coast (Council) in March 2014 (refer ex Minute G14.0325.004).

The shape and orientation of the artificial reef is being designed to consider wave breaking characteristics on the reef and the surrounding shoreline. This is important for the consideration of surf and beach amenity.

The delivery of coastal engineering projects of this nature are complex and challenging. To meet these challenges the City adopted an approach to incorporate multiple investigations, which include; wave studies, surveys, physical modelling, numerical modelling and beach width analysis.

Phase 1: beach nourishment 2017

Survey vessel

Beach nourishment will be undertaken as part of the Gold Coast Beach Nourishment Project. This major beach nourishment project will take place at the Gold Coast’s most vulnerable beaches from June to October 2017.

The City has completed extensive research including the study of coastal data from wave buoys, beach surveys, camera monitoring and computer modelling to inform the project design. A design with nature approach is being taken to deliver the project.

At Palm Beach, nourishment will involve dredging clean sand from our deep water offshore sand supplies and depositing this sand around the wave breaking zone by bottom dumping and rainbowing. Bottom dumping releases sand into the wave breaking zone through the vessel hull. Rainbowing projects sand from the bow of the vessel into the wave breaking zone.

The additional sand will be deposited around the wave breaking zone but not directly on the beach. Over time, the sand will move with the coast’s natural process, adding extra sand to protect our beaches from erosion. This beach nourishment technique has a successful history on our beaches.

A small 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.

Sand will be placed in two locations:

  1. Sand will be placed in shallow areas around the wave breaking zone. This type of nourishment will have an immediate effect on beach widening following placement, and will have the greatest influence on surfing amenity. Sand will be placed in patterns to replicate natural rhythmic sand bar formations, known to promote good quality surfing conditions at Palm Beach.
  2. Sand will be 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 volume of sand along Palm Beach.

Beach nourishment objectives

  • The City has identified the most vulnerable areas of Palm Beach through beach survey analysis since the 1960s. A grid system has been designed using this data to identify areas requiring nourishment. The contractor will use this grid system as a map to place sand along Palm Beach.
  • Sand will be strategically placed around the wave breaking zone to increase the volume of sand at Palm Beach to buffer against future storms and coastal erosion.
  • The nourishment design will protect, and where possible enhance, beach and surf amenity. This includes the placement of sand to reproduce natural beach conditions.
  • While the sand will not be placed directly on the beach, over time the additional sand will move with the coast’s natural processes adding extra sand supply to our beaches and acting as a natural buffer during storms.
  • The nourishment will be undertaken in accordance with the City’s existing development approvals, which were previously used between 2004 and 2006 to deliver beach nourishment at south Palm Beach.
  • The nourishment is the initial phase of the holistic solution for Palm Beach to improve coastal protection. The second phase includes construction of an artificial reef in 2019.

Check our beach nourishment schedule for further details.

Phase 2: artificial reef 2019

The artificial reef will be constructed approximately 330 metres offshore, stretching from Nineteenth Avenue to the existing natural reef at Palm Beach. The artificial reef will be approximately 144 metres in width. The final shape, location and orientation of the reef are currently being refined as part of design investigations.

The natural reef focuses wave energy. The design of the artificial reef will harness this focused wave energy, increasing the volume of sand retained along vulnerable sections of Palm Beach.

The shape and orientation of the artificial reef is being designed to consider wave breaking characteristics on the reef and the surrounding shoreline. This is important for the consideration of surfing and beach use.

We know more than ever about Palm Beach thanks to improved coastal data captured through wave buoys, beach surveys, camera monitoring and improved computer modelling technologies. This data ensures that real life conditions are used during project design.

The project incorporates multiple investigations, which include; wave studies, surveys, physical modelling in experimental basins, numerical modelling, and beach width analysis.

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.

Kevin Schofield
President Pacific Surf Life Saving Club, Palm Beach

"I believe that the entire project will be good for Palm Beach including the reef. Having lived here for 35 years it will be reassuring that the beach will finally hold up in most conditions.

I think the stakeholder meeting was very beneficial - good to know what's going on in detail - and then convey to our clubs membership."

Dan Stewart
Hon. Sec Palm Beach Surf Life Saving Club, Qld

"As long as your modelling reflects the reality of Nature's forces, the plan to produce surfable banks along the threatened foreshore for sand replenishment is great. I do believe also that foreshore residents who have a rock barrier which does not extend to the depth and other specifications now required be put on notice that they will need to upgrade their barriers and conform to accessibility requirements in extreme weather events, weaknesses in the structures create problems for all.

The night was informative and casual. I intend to write a small article in our next newsletter so members are aware of the project; its purpose and the extent of proposed at sea operations."

Project videos

Project update – September 2017

Phase 1: beach nourishment
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 Gold Coast Beach Nourishment Project continues to distribute sand at Palm Beach and other Gold Coast beaches. The project commenced in June 2017 and will be completed by late October subject to weather and swell conditions. Nourishment at Palm Beach is also phase 1 of the Palm Beach Shoreline Project.

To date, nourishment at Palm Beach has been effective in enhancing sand banks to produce temporarily improved surfing outcomes.

Phase 2: Artificial reef
The physical model of the artificial reef is being tested in the Water Research Laboratory at the University of New South Wales to inform the design of the reef.

Computer modelling of the Palm Beach shoreline Click to enlarge

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