Monday, 10 December 2007

St Clair Erosion management UPDATE

It will be mid 2011 .. a minimum of four years, before the Dunedin City Council is ready to apply for resource consents for the implementation of a chosen erosion protection method for 'fixing our beaches'.
Mick Reece's slogan 'No quick fix for beaches' (odt 20 July 07) has been made again last month in an article in the ODT (article below). The DCC Community Development Committee's second report since the July storm events and subsequent beach emergency was made at a council meeting on the 13th of November. Here is a link to the actual report online click here . This report was unanimously approved by the 12 city councillors in the presence of our re-elected Mayor, Peter Chin.

Why does it take an emergency situation for the city council to suddenly pull a (slow) finger to remedy years of well documented inaction?
Doesn't this long and drawn out process of deciding on a solution put our beach and the land assets behind it in a delicate and continual risk? - These assets I am talking about are the whole of St Kilda and South Dunedin, not just the sports grounds. Have we not just had a 'Beach Emergency' which is still in operation? With the real-time action of global warming/sea level rise and it's most threatening aspect increased storm events, is it too much of a risk to allow our already severely damaged coastal protection dunes and beach to be laid bare and vulnerable for four full years or more?
Now I do support that the council now wants to "do it once, do it right" to come up with a long-term sustainable solution to repair damage from continued erosion issues along Ocean Beach. Especially in light of the past events over the design of the new sea wall, it's continued failings, the controversy of its design, and the heightened erosion issues which have ensued since it's construction. Even though the then consultants OCTA assured that the adverse effects would be minimal in the resource consent applications.

[pic above: top frame, recovering from storm damage in 2002, and bottom frame, after some sand replenishment recovery work in August 07 with severely eroded dunes]

The Councils decision for this lengthy process is apparently due to the lack of hydrological data (wave action and sediment transport studies) on the Ocean Beach area. City Council has been advised by several independent experts to undertake these studies on many occasions over the last 100 years, and more essentially again prior to the design and construction of the new sea wall in 2002. It appears evident now, due to ongoing issues with the sea wall and sand retention, that the wall was not designed with the necessary hydrological data for it’s successful function:- erosion protection and preservation of the amenity value at St Clair beach.
* There are actually a number of studies specifically relating to the required data which were not used in 2002. In August 1999 a council meeting approved "$60,000, being the first of two allocations (totaling $120,000) for a hydrological study, be committed to the Esplanade Wall report as an authorised over-expenditure.” ~ what happened to these?
*I believe the data collection is a good move by the council, but my concern is the length of time with extended periods of public consultation and report commissioning. Especially since there is still an ‘emergency status’ under the Resource management act still in place where no notified resource consents are required for ongoing work.

BELOW: The time-line which is not on the online report, showing the 'Strategy Programme - Long Term Planning Process' as presented to the DCC by the Community Development Committee and accepted by the Mayor and City Councillors on the 13th November 2007.

More on the report: Outlined in the report was the approval of the current ‘Holding Pattern’ of sand replenishment and reno mattress construction where necessary for a period of four years whilst the council undertakes a comprehensive public consultation process and data collecting exercise before any kind of long term erosion protection is implemented. A first year data collection budget of approx $300,000 will be approved in January at the councils 2008 funding meeting.
So in summary: it will be at least another four years, the end of 2011, until the council will begin to implement a long term plan involving obtaining the necessary resource consents for the chosen erosion protection method/s based upon results from the data collection period. This 2011 resource consent process and probable periods of appeals and hearings may take many more years.

1. That the already severely eroded dune system is unable to naturally respond to future storm events, and will remain vulnerable to storm events for a period of at least four years, placing the entire area of St Kilda and South Dunedin in danger of inundation. These storm events are likely to increase and hit with more severity in light of sea level rise and changes in the global environment - report by International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), such as we have witnessed this winter.
2. That the DCCouncil may find its self in a desperate state a few years down the track and be forced to construct hard structures such as breakwaters and or a sea wall along a major length of Ocean Beach.
3. That the Council MUST explore proven alternative solutions of erosion protection, such as 'Soft Shore' methods
as recommended by the IPCC, who do not advocate the use of hard engineering structures. I fully support Holmberg Technologies and their soft shore protection system, which I have submitted to the council, only to be told they weren't interested at this point.

The engineering path of creating a healthy functioning sand dune system (preserving the
natural characteristics of) and a wide healthy beach profile is paramount in preserving amenity value for both sports people and beach users. This will in turn will enhance the banks and provide for a better surfing experience.
The council is more concerned with retaining the sports grounds behind the dunes than preserving the natural characteristics of the dune system and beach.
Hard engineering structures, like breakwaters, sea walls and groins will definitely protect the sports grounds, but will be a phenomenal cost for construction as well as an ongoing burden to ratepayers for ongoing maintenance. These hard structures will kill the beach (as can be seen in front of the new sea wall) and most likely adversely affect the surfing breaks.

Where to from here?
What can you do?
Step 1
- The first round of DCC public consultation Dec 07 – Feb 08: The public will be encouraged to comment on the proposed scope and content of the information needed to draft the long-term plan. ie: Feedback on proposed data collection & how we would like the beach to look (natural or engineered) and desired amenity value.
I will update the blog when these public submission forms come out in the next few weeks.

If you would like a comprehensive written and pictorial history of the Beach emergency since May 2007 on this blog, please click here
Dune Erosion

Below is a one minute video of photographs of the severe progression of erosion at Ocean Beach from a series of South East Storms July to September 2007


Anonymous said...

Hi phoam - it would be worth double checking that they are able to undertake emergency works without a resource consent for something like coastal erosion. They know there is a likelihood it is going to happen, and it therefore should not covered by emergency provisions under the RMA. I think the relevant case was something like Faulkner v Gisborne DC - may not be the one but there is some relevant caselaw

nic @ phoam on 12 December, 2007 18:44 said...

Resource Management Act 1991
XII: Declarations, Enforcement, and Ancillary Powers Offences
**section 341: Strict liability and defences**

" 341/(2)(b)- That the action or event to which the prosecution relates was due to an event beyond the control of the defendant, including natural disaster, mechanical failure, or *sabotage*, and in each case either---
(i) The action or event could not reasonably have been foreseen or been provided against by the defendant; and
(ii) The effects of the action or event were adequately mitigated or remedied by the defendant after it occurred."


The DCC has sharp lawyers..

Under the RMA.. emergency powers can be utilised in cases of *sabotage* which results in threat to property and life.
The sand sausages were the action of sabotage which allowed them to exercise those emergency powers.

good timing.

Anonymous said...

If DCC were really concerned about protecting life and property and managing the emergency situation on the beach in a timely and cost-effective manner they would have jumped at the opportunity to at least urgently investigate the Holmberg solution as proposed by Nic - but they havent and this makes you wonder what DCC are really up to.

An option which is still open to DCC would be to investigate building a Holmberg system (under emergency RMA provisions) in front of the existing sea wall - an area which is obviously having a detrimental effect on the rest of the beach.

This would be a low risk option because in the event that the system didn't perform life and property would still be protected by the wall. If it worked however it would provide a pilot which could be expanded on to protect other parts of the beach.

This option would not preclude Council conducting longer term studies either. At least it would be proactive and practicable step which you would expect a concerned and responsible Council to take in this situation.

Sparksy said...

Citizens of Dunedin unite!!!
This is a golden opportunity to wrest the control of one of N.Z's iconic coastal areas from a careless Council and make it an attraction and show piece again.
Surely now that even non-beach types have seen and heard the effects the 'new' wonder wall is having can realise that Council's hand must be forced...and now!
I had first hand experience in seeing how Council uses it's lawyers and scientific data to blur the edges during the fight against their sewage plans and fear that if ratepayers sit back we will get more of the same wasteful efforts as we did with the construction of the latest wall.
We must dictate to Council, not the other way around or else the 'cheap fix' option will be haunting us in another few years time as it is now.
Let's erode the cloud and reveal the silver lining that the current emergency hides and put in place a long term goal to make the stretch of coast from Lawyers Head to Seconds a eco-attraction. Why not plan to have (in time) a series of connecting boardwalks and access points to the beach, maybe piers (if appropriate), offshore artificial reefs that cater to a multitude of water activities (if best) and plant native species to attract our sealife and birds as well as encourage the forming of proper dunes again.
Here is our chance to leave a legacy to be proud of in an area recognised by people nationwide and internationally. Promo material of Dunedin always sports shots of this stretch of coast, so make something of it!!!
But it starts with us - we must act before we give Council a chance to botch....AGAIN!

nic @ phoam on 18 December, 2007 08:57 said...

lots of ideas flying around here.
I love the idea of a trial Holmberg in front of the new sea wall.
Re: Those blurred edges from the collected data in the scientific soup presented to council.. as long as 'it' semi resembles requirements under the RMA and the NZ coastal policy statement, and their actions can be supported by promises of minimal adverse effects by their well paid experts' reports .. then all that needs to occur is the passing of 'it' through council and the appointed consents committee at ORC.. From what I can see from studying the process of the New sea wall, desires and recommendations from the public consultation were mostly ignored. The council wanted the wall as they presented it, and nothing seemed to be able to stop it.

Sparksy said...

Hey Nic,

Thanks for the response.

In truth, the blurred edges I was referring to were the ones that arose during the sewage outfall debate. I was involved somewhat with P.O.O (Protect Our Ocean)during the final planning of the new piped sewage system and through the POO multi talented team (not me I may add!) we were able to achieve what I had been told wasn't possible. That is alter Council's planning.

Concerted group action got results and I believe that is what is required now, although in truth I am now residing in Australia, the Dunedin coast is still a passion for me and I watch from afar as the situation unfolds.

Admittedly my knowledge of what suits the situation best is meagre, but good old fashioned Southern passion mixed with intelligent informed folk like your good self will triumph in the end.

If you want some contact with the resident POO members, let me know. I for one will do what I can as a ratepayer, even though I am not living there.

Kia Kaha!

nic @ phoam on 18 December, 2007 21:53 said...

Hi again sparksy,

yes some contact with other local and intelligent passionate people would be very welcome over this issue if they feel similar.
if you can flick me an email at nic (at) phoam (dot) co (dot) nz


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