Beach nourishment (also known as beach replenishment) is when sand is added to the beach from other locations. The sand acts as a buffer that protects the coast from erosion during weather events.
Replenishing the sand is necessary because:
- our beaches are vulnerable to repeated erosion during storms, swells and weather events
- building coastal protection structures including training walls and groynes have altered natural sand movement.
Beach nourishment is an integral part of our coastal protection efforts. It includes:
- offshore dredging
- creek dredging
- sand bypassing
- sand backpass project
- reuse of excavated sand.
In 2017, we contracted a specialised offshore dredging vessel to pump sand from offshore reserves and deliver it to the nearshore bar systems along our coastline. More than 3 million cubic metres of sand was strategically placed along our coastline to renourish our most vulnerable beaches. This additional sand has proved effective in buffering our beaches from erosion.
Tallebudgera and Currumbin Creeks are dredged every year during the winter and spring, finishing in time for the September school holidays.
In Tallebudgera Creek, for each day of dredging, about 1000 cubic metres of sand is pumped from the creek around the Burleigh Headland and on to southern Burleigh Beach where natural processes help transport it north.
The dredge then moves onto Currumbin Creek. About 30,000 cubic metres of sand is removed from an area within the creek mouth which is used to nourish southern Palm Beach. Work at Currumbin Creek usually starts in October and finishes in December.
Where the natural flow of sand has been altered by the construction of training walls or groynes, a sand bypass system may be needed. Sand is moved under or around these obstacles mechanically or hydraulically to maintain natural supply.
The first sand bypassing system was constructed at the Gold Coast Seaway in 1986. The aim was to maintain the natural movement of sand along the coastline. It consists of a 500-metre-long jetty located approximately 250 metres south of the southern training wall.
Tweed River Entrance Sand Bypassing Project was constructed in 2000 to restore the transport of sand to the southern beaches of the Gold Coast.
Sand Backpass Pipeline
Work is underway on our Surfers Paradise Sand Backpass Pipeline Project to install a 7.8-kilometre pipeline that will deliver natural sand from The Spit to the northern beaches including Surfers Paradise.
Once completed, 6.3 kilometres of permanent pipe will run underground and connect to 1.5 kilometres of temporary above ground pipe to funnel sand from the existing sand bypass system at Southport Seaway onto the upper beach at Surfers Paradise.
The pipeline will enable the City to efficiently respond to major weather events and conduct annual renourishment campaigns. It complements a 2017 beach nourishment campaign which used a dredge vessel to replenish Gold Coast beaches with 3 million cubic metres of sand.
The pipeline will redirect up to 20% or approximately 120,000 cubic metres of the sand transported via the Seaway Bypass to South Stradbroke Island each year.
The Surfers Paradise Sand Backpass Pipeline is a long-term investment in maintaining our beaches and supports our Ocean Beaches Strategy 2013–2023.
Reusing excavated sand
Development regulations for beachfront properties are outlined in the Gold Coast City Plan. These regulations include the treatment and use of marine sand excavated during coastal property developments.
Clean, high-quality marine sand excavated from coastal properties must be delivered to approved stockpile locations along the coast. This sand is stored for future storm response or placed in the intertidal zone to allow natural distribution along our coastline. Sand must be cleaned and sieved to ensure our beaches remain in pristine condition.
Capturing excess sand from coastal developments means we can return it to our beaches. Since the 1970s, this approach has resulted in over 2 million cubic metres of clean sand being returned to nourish our foreshore.
Increased volumes of sand help to protect private and public property along the coastline; and wider dunes and beaches means storm impacts are more manageable.
Refer to the Gold Coast City Plan – Section 8.2.4 Coastal Hazard Erosion Overlay for sand excavation regulations.