Thursday, October 27, 2011

Altona Beach Nourishment

25 beaches around Port Phillip Bay were nourished during the 1970s and 1980s to replace sand lost through erosion. In 2001, the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) commissioned a study to assess the condition of these 25 beaches as well as another 18 beaches, producing a priority list for beach nourishment in the Beaches at Risk report. The 13 assessment criteria include technical criteria (beach length, beach width, erosion rate, public risk, public facilities, foreshore land, environmental value), social criteria (social value, community use, supporting infrastructure, community management) and economic criteria (contribution to local economy, scope for economic development).

BeachMunicipality
Technical
Social
Total
Ranking
AltonaHobsons Bay
30
24
54
1
ElwoodPort Phillip
27
24
51
2
Mt Martha NorthMornington Peninsula
29
17
46
3
PortarlingtonGreater Geelong
28
17
45
4
PortseaMornington Peninsula
21
22
43
5
North AspendaleKingston
25
18
43
5
Half Moon BayBayside
22
21
43
5
Eastern Beach GeelongGreater Geelong
22
21
43
5
Brighton New StBayside
21
21
42
9
Werribee SouthWyndham
23
18
41
10
St HelensGreater Geelong
25
16
41
10
McCrae BeachMornington Peninsula
23
18
41
10
BlairgowrieMornington Peninsula
21
19
40
13
RipplesideGreater Geelong
24
16
40
13
St LeonardsGreater Geelong
22
18
40
13
Western Beach GeelongGreater Geelong
20
20
40
13
Point LonsdaleBorough of Queenscliff
19
21
40
13
MoorpanyalGreater Geelong
21
15
36
18
Shelleys BeachMornington Peninsula
25
11
36
18
Fishermans BeachMornington Peninsula
19
16
35
20
QueenscliffBorough of Queenscliff
14
20
34
21
Marina CoveMornington Peninsula
20
7
27
22
SorrentoMornington Peninsula
17
0
17
23
ParkdaleKingston
17
0
17
23
WilliamstownHobsons Bay
16
0
16
25
RyeMornington Peninsula
16
0
16
25
Altona Coastal ParkHobsons Bay
16
0
16
25
Mt Martha SouthMornington Peninsula
16
0
16
25
West RosebudMornington Peninsula
14
0
14
29
RosebudMornington Peninsula
10
0
10
30
Table 1: Rankings of Beaches in Port Phillip Bay

Altona Beach tops the list in terms of both technical and social criteria. Altona and Elwood Beaches are both large and extremely popular beaches that are well managed, have significant supporting infrastructure and provide economic benefits for the community.

In November 2006, the Victorian Government announced the Enhancing Our Beaches Program, which allocated $8 million over 4 years to add 166,400 tonnes of quarried sand around Port Phillip Bay, with Elwood Beach receiving 64,000 tonnes of sand and Altona Beach receiving 73,600 tonnes of sand.

Altona had been previously nourished 3 times, in 1982 (with 11,400 m3 of sand), 1989 (16,000 m3) and 1990 (4,500 m3). Hence, it has been 20 years since the last nourishment. The 2010 nourishment project deposited 45,408 m3 of 1mm median diameter coarse sand from land-based quarry to 923 m stretch of beach between Bayview Street (east of Altona Pier) and Romawi Street (west), widening the beach from its present 15-25 m to a new 45 m. This $2.5 million transformation project, headed by DSE and Hobsons Bay Council, would see the beach last for another 20-25 years and also involve the expansion or diversion of several stormwater drainage outfalls to accommodate the expanded beach. The project probably started in September 2010 and was nearly completed in May this year. I am not quite certain about the completion status as this is still listed as a current project under Hobsons Bay City Council's website.

Altona residents had lobbied for extension of the beach restoration program to the western end of the beach, with the Environment Minister Ryan Smith being brought twice to visit this area. Bruce Ewen, who has lived on the Esplanade since 1973, said “Crowds of people come here in the summer from all over the western suburbs and they all want to stay on the nice part of the beach. There’s all sorts of trouble with traffic and overcrowding. We need to spread it out and get more equitable usage of our wonderful facility.” The high expectation brought about by the Minister's double visits was followed by disappointment after the state budget failed to allocate any fund for the extension.

In contrast, the community response differed greatly on the other side of the Bay. At the beginning of this month, the DSE commenced a $500,000 renourishment program of the beach at Half Moon Bay, laying it with 13,500 tonnes of coarse red sand, sourced from a quarry in Gippsland. By widening the beach by up to 10 m, the program aims to prevent erosion and attract more people.

This project has sparked widespread community opposition. Black Rock resident Michael Schuh said,  "They're ruining a golden beach with red dirt." He pointed out that the beach has remained unchanged since 1940, as seen in a painting by Arthur Boyd. "They're nourishing a beach that doesn't need nourishing. If erosion was occurring and the beach was going to be gone and we had to live with it, we would live with it. But we don't have that situation. What we've got is a perfectly good beach that replenishes itself." The locals are also worried that the expanded beach would attract more visitors.

Environment Minister Ryan Smith scrapped the project a few days later in response to community concern. He ordered an investigation which found the beach in ''reasonably stable'' condition and had not eroded at the rate predicted three years ago.

A DSE spokesman said the project and the removal of 1800 tonnes of sand already dumped would cost $90,000, with the remaining $400,000 committed to the project to be delivered to beaches where there is a real need.

I hope that the authority would consider using the remaining $400,000 to fund the nourishment of the western end of Altona Beach, where it is fully justified in terms of technical, economic and social criteria.

9 Nov 2011 Update:

A last minute bid by Hobsons Bay Council to get 13,500 tonnes of unwanted sand from Half Moon Bay for Altona Beach has been rejected, with the sand destined for Elwood Beach in the east.

Resident Bruce Ewen said it was a great opportunity for Altona to get the rejected sand and the sand colour and quality did not matter. “If it was sufficient to finish the project, that would be fantastic. If it means we have to put up with something that looks like a neapolitan ice-cream for a while, that’s not the worst thing.” Let's hope that Elwood residents are not too particular about the colour and appearance of the unwanted sand!

DSE spokeswoman said that Altona might not be the ideal place for the sand because the beach was just refurbished. But there was some good new for Altona Beach. The State Government would help the Council buy a new recycling machine for seaweed control, by chipping in $43,780, about half the cost of the machine.

Western Metropolitan Liberal MP Bernie Finn said that the Environment Minister Ryan Smith had a very keen personal interest in Altona Beach and was “keen to see this beach go from strength to strength”. Hopefully, we will see the western end of Altona Beach being renourished soon as the sand there was “almost non-existent” as described by Hobsons Bay Deputy Mayor Tony Briffa.


References

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Winners and Losers in Altona

This morning when I passed by Harrington Square on the way to Westona train station, I saw quite a number of people congregating, setting up equipment. There was also a long, black limousine in the carpark and sections of the carpark were cordoned off with large vehicles. 

After returning from work in the late afternoon, I was surprised to see even more people. It now became clear to me that a filming is taking place. I learnt from a crewman that Channel 7 is filming the TV series "Winners and Losers". A shop in Harrington Square, which has been vacated for sometimes, is now used as the filming venue and I can see the actors walking out of the shop. 

It is interesting to see filming being conducted in our neighbourhood.