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Work began yesterday on retrieving damaged sand bags washed away from the base of a protective sand sausage at St Clair.
Winter storms and high tides had caused the smaller sand bags to detach from the toe of the structure and an excavator had to dig down about 1.5m through the sand to find them.
''It's a fair-sized hole and it fills up with water as the tide comes in, making it difficult to see the bags,'' DCC coastal specialist Tom Simons-Smith said.
But they had ''a pretty good system'' of finding them.
They started using the excavator at the end of the sand sausage closest to the end of the sea wall near the St Clair Surf Club.
''We are just working on a 50m - 60m section of the structure, targeting about 13 sand bags which were the most severely damaged by the storms,'' Mr Simons-Smith said.
The mesh-covered layers of the main sand sausage were intact but some of the smaller sand bags protecting the main structure from under-scour and erosion had been moved about a metre down the beach where they were buried under the sand.
So the work which began yesterday retrieving and repositioning the smaller bags was ''to protect the protection'', Mr Simons-Smith said.
As the smaller bags were retrieved, they were put back in position at the base of the sand sausage and secured by posts driven into the sand. When yesterday afternoon's incoming tide forced the excavator from the beach, two posts had been placed.