Thursday, 12 December 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Weve lost another metre

Weve lost another metre

Another storm and we’ve lost another metre of the foreshore at Whitianga’s Buffalo Beach. The new rock wall is doing its job - at least the toilets are still there. The dunes planted with indigenous vegetation towards Mother Brown’s Creek are also doing their job. No erosion there. But the area between the wall and the dunes is a problem - and a big one at that. Another storm or two and the Buffalo Memorial (just past the new rock wall) may be in real danger. The pohutukawa in front of the memorial is already, some say, past the point of being saved.

So, on Wednesday last week, as soon as I became aware of the damage last week’s storm caused to Buffalo Beach, I wrote to Waikato Regional Council, Thames Coromandel District Council, the Coastal Erosion Steering Group, central government and concerned residents to find out what can be done and, more importantly, when.

Here’s a summary of what I’ve been told.

Concerned resident, Jo Fearn is of the view the new rock wall caused erosion at the Buffalo Memorial and north of that to accelerate. She ideally would like to see the entire beach protected with a dune planting programme, but accepts drastic action, in the form of an extension to the wall, is necessary.

Coastal Erosion Steering Group member, John Evans would like to see work on an extension to the wall to start tomorrow. Thinking further ahead,
he would like to see a test groyne being installed to see if that will assist with rebuilding of the beach over the longer term.

Waikato Regional Councillor for the Coromandel, Clyde Graf is of the view some money WRC committed to find a long term solution should be directed into physical work.

Coromandel Member of Parliament, Scott Simpson said one thing is certain - any solution will be ugly and expensive.

That’s a feeling shared by TCDC. The new rock wall was very expensive and there isn’t funding available for an extension. They appreciate the urgency of the matter, however, and a late item will be tabled at the upcoming Council meeting on 25 June to discuss possible funding for a 150m extension to the wall and fast-tracking of the work. If funding is approved and there aren’t any hold-ups in the resource consent process, work on an extension, which will take two to three months to complete, can start this year still.

TCDC has also scheduled for August/September this year another dune planting of about 150m south towards the Buffalo Memorial.

Distilling all the replies I received, I think it’s possible that by the end of this year or early next year another 300m of Buffalo Beach will be protected - rock 150m northwards, dune planting 150m southwards. Which still leaves a bit in the middle.

So, I wonder - why can’t the dune planting programme be extended, all the way south to where the extension to the rock wall will end? I don’t know much about coastal science - if things like wave-impact will allow more dunes to be planted, but I think it’s a question worth asking. As I think it will be worth going to Thames on 25 June - to hear if the new rock wall will, in fact, be extended.

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