The Dunedin City Council is likely to commit more funding
to protecting the sea wall at St Clair. Photo by Stephen
The Dunedin City Council looks set to commit another
$95,000 to holding back the surf at St Clair Beach, but is not
yet ready to confirm a longer-term fix.
Councillors deliberating on the 2014-15 draft annual plan
yesterday voted to approve an interim risk management plan
aimed at protecting the sea wall at St Clair.
The move, subject to final approval, would involve a mix of
monitoring and regular maintenance in the area while more
detailed work on a long-term solution continued.
However, council infrastructure and services general manager
Tony Avery was quick to pounce on any suggestion the council
was moving towards constructing a groyne to protect the
Council maintenance engineer Peter Standring told the meeting
that was an option favoured by consultants, as it could
straighten out waves which otherwise approached the beach at
an angle, stripping sand from the area.
Better protection of the beach would also allow more sand to
be dumped in the area, to build up the beach and protect the
sea wall behind, he said.
However, Cr Neville Peat questioned that approach, saying any
change to waves at the popular surf spot would ''ring alarm
bells'' among the surfing community.
Mr Avery interjected to stress there was no proposal on the
table for a groyne or any other offshore structure.
The idea was among ''potential options'' identified, but all
needed to be considered in more detail, he said.
The interim risk management plan was designed to protect the
area while that work continued. ''This is not a report that's
proposing anything else. We are going to have to do more
work,'' he said.
The council was at stage one of a four-stage approach to
rectifying problems at St Clair, and had asked Opus
International Consultants to study possible long-term
solutions to the problem.
Those were expected to be discussed at next year's long-term
plan budget discussions.
However, Opus' stage one report, tabled at yesterday's
meeting, outlined possible options, including an offshore
breakwater, which it said was a proven way of dissipating
waves and retaining sand.
However, a breakwater could also have a ''significant
detrimental impact'' on surfing in the area, it warned.
Earlier, Cr John Bezett had urged council staff to consider
beach replenishment as an option for the area, as was done in
parts of Australia.
More sand in the area between the St Clair Salt Water Pool
and the beach's piles would protect the sea wall, meaning
damage like last year's sinkholes could be avoided in future,
Mr Avery said Opus had concluded sand was not disappearing
from the area for good.
''It comes and goes . . . There's an offshore sandbank, and
it comes back on,'' he said.
Regularly depositing sand to replenish St Clair Beach would
be ''extremely expensive'', with doubtful benefits, he said.
Building an offshore groyne or other structure could reduce
wave energy and help hold sand at the beach, but its
construction would also be a ''fairly significant'' decision,
Cr Bezett disagreed, saying ''if the sand's not there, it's
''What happens at St Clair Beach is the sand goes and goes
and goes, and it's gone.''
The debate came after last year's severe storms stripped sand
from the beach, triggering sinkholes along the Esplanade at
St Clair, which had since cost the council $680,000 in
emergency remedial work.
In the meantime, the interim plan would allow council staff
to monitor the wall, looking for further signs of
That would include checking and rearranging rocks at the foot
of the wall every six months, and drawing up an emergency
contingency plan to respond to any future partial failure of
the sea wall or rock revetment.